Utica, N.Y. - October 3, 2009 - The Springfield College football team amassed 318 yards on the ground as it defeated host Utica College 43-16 in an Empire 8 Conference contest Saturday on the turf at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. The Pride used its rush-heavy, triple option attack, which included four players totaling 45 yards or more rushing on the ground as they improved to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play. The Pioneers compiled 269 yards passing but could not establish the running game as they dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
Springfield quarterback Josh Carter rushed the ball 12 times for a game-high 97 yards and two touchdowns while Baldwin Cunningham added 71 yards and one touchdown. Carter also completed two of nine passes for 49 yards and one touchdown.
Freshman quarterback Andrew Benkwitt completed 23 of 43 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns for UC. Josh Mason snagged six balls for a game-high 81 yards and one touchdown, while Cody Elliot also caught six passes for 51 yards. Sophomore running back Zach Jones rushed the ball 18 times for 33 yards in the Pioneer loss.
Senior linebacker Ken Goodwin added a team-high nine tackles for the Pride, while Matt Pieterse made eight stops. The Pride defense held Utica to 46 yards rushing on the ground and also tallied four sacks, including two by Chris Kulcsar.
Springfield took control from the get go when senior defensive back and kick returner Jarred Burrell returned the opening kick 86 yards for a touchdown to give the Pride a 7-0 lead just 11 seconds into the contest. It was the second straight game at Utica in which a Springfield player opened the game with a kick return for a touchdown. Two years ago, Erich Timmerman opened the game with an 87-yard TD return. After a Pioneer punt on the ensuing drive, Springfield went right back to work and capped a 15 play, 76 yards drive, with a 22-yard field goal by Giuliano Pizzo to give the Pride a 10-0 lead with 6:43 to go in the first quarter of play.
The Pioneers had a chance to get on the board on the following drive but sophomore kicker Dennis Avdic pulled a 37-yard field goal attempt wide left with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter.
Springfield posted the first score of the second quarter when Carter connected with Tim Brady on a 28-yard touchdown pass to cap a seven-play, 74-yard drive, to give the Pride a commanding 17-0 lead with 12:01 to go in the first half.
Just over six minutes later the Pioneers scored their first points of the game when Avdic redeemed himself with a 29-yard field goal that split the uprights to cut the Springfield lead to two touchdowns with exactly six minutes left on the first half clock.
The Pride used a 23-yard touchdown run by Carter and a 42-yard field goal by Pizzo in the final 35 seconds of the half to take a 26-3 lead into the locker room. After Carter’s touchdown scamper with 35 seconds left on the clock, senior linebacker Ryan Gunningsmith intercepted an Andrew Benkwitt pass to set up the 42-yard field goal by Pizzo just as the first half clock expired.
The Pioneers were forced to punt on the opening drive of the second half and Burrell took advantage of the Pioneers special teams again by returning the punt 70 yards to set up a six-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Baldwin Cunningham, giving the Pride a 30-point lead with 12:28 to go in the third quarter of play.
Springfield senior captain and DE Cody Flanigan then blocked a Pioneer punt on the next drive to set up a 35- yard field goal for Pizzo as the Pride took a 36-3 lead with 9:55 to go in the third.
The Pioneers scored their first touchdown of the contest on the next drive when Benkwitt marched UC down the field 88 yards resulting in a 13-yard touchdown grab by sophomore receiver Josh Mason to cut the Springfield lead to 36-9 with 3:47 to go in the third quarter. The Pioneers went for two, but Benkwitt's pass was intercepted by Goodwin.
Carter added another touchdown run in the fourth quarter (making it 43-9) and the Pioneers would punch in the final touchdown of the contest on a five-yard pass from Benkwitt to Tim Millerick with 2:07 left to close out the scoring on the day.
UC returns to action next Saturday when they travel to first year program Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass. The contest is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Springfield returns home next Saturday to take on Husson College at 1:30 p.m. It will be SC's first home game in 35 days.