Springfield, Mass. -- October 16, 2010 -- Quarterback Josh Carter rushed for 102 yards to lead his Springfield College football team to a 20-16 victory over Utica College in a hard-fought Empire 8 contest at SC's Amos Alonzo Stagg Field in front of a happy Homecoming Day crowd.
With the win, Springfield is now 5-1 overall, 1-1 in the Empire 8. Utica falls to 5-2 overall, 0-2 in the league.
This was a close game by almost all counts. There was only five yards difference in total offense -- 313 yards for Springfield, 308 yards for Utica. Each team had 20 first downs. Time of possession went Utica's way by 26 seconds -- 30:13 to 29:47. Number of plays went SC's way -- 70-62.
Utica had the game's first drive, but SC forced a punt after five plays. The Pride then went on a smart 71-yard, nine-play drive over the next 3:50 to take a 7-0 lead. The big plays were back-to-back rushes by senior halfback and tri-captain Joe Myhren for 25 and 10 yards. Myhren had two more rushes, and eventually scored on a seven-yard run with 8:46 remaining in the quarter. Sophomore Ricky Peacock's extra point allowed SC to take a 7-0 lead that lasted all the way to late in the third quarter.
At the half, Utica had slightly outgained Springfield, 163 yards to 146. The Pride had run one more play, 33-32.
In the second quarter, the Pioneers put together one of their most impressive drives of the day, chewing up 5:14 of the clock and penetrating all the way down to the Pride two-yard line. But the next four plays proved critical to the outcome of the game.
On first down, freshman running back Barrington Wallace was stopped for no gain. On second down, sophomore fullback Jeff Zellner rushed for about a half-yard. On third down, Zellner again was the ball carrier, except that he initially bobbled the ball before falling on it for a three-yard loss. On fourth down, head coach Blaise Faggiano elected to go for the field goal. The 24-yard attempt by sophomore TJ Losowski may have had the distance from 50 yards out, but it hit the right upright and bounced back onto the field of play.
In the third quarter, Utica drove 59 yards on 10 plays for the tying touchdown. The Pioneers were aided by an SC holding penalty on a fourth-and-four at the SC 38. The penalty gave Utica the ball at the 28. That was followed by by two rushes by sophomore running back Jake Scott to the SC 15. Then sophomore quarterback Andrew Benkwitt found Scott on a crossing pattern to the two-yard line. On first-and-goal from the two, Benkwitt fooled everyone by completing a pass to senior fullback Tim Millerick in the flat for an easy TD. Lisowski's point-after tied the score at 7-all with 2:42 left in the third.
But Springfield's special teams, which played well all day, did not allow Utica much comfort. Junior running back Mark Safer immediately returned the kickoff 54 yards to the Utica 39. After a Carter gain of two, senior running back Antoine King rushed for 18 yards to the 19. One play play later, sophomore fullback Mike Davis ran for 11 yards to the Pioneer six yard line. From there, Carter slipped through for the touchdown, which came just 1:33 after Utica had tied it. However, sophomore safety Omari Byfield blocked Peacock's extra point attempt, and SC led, 13-7.
Benkwitt took over on the very next drive. He marched the Pioneers down the field -- six plays, 61 yards, in 3:09 -- for the game-tying TD. Two of the last three plays were a 25-yard completion by Benkwitt on a third-and-nine to junior wide receiver Joshua Mason, followed by a 24-yard TD pass play to junior wide receiver Jeremy Meier. With 13:03 left in the game, Utica was poised to take the lead. But Lisowski's kick went wide right, and it was all tied at 13.
Starting at their own 36, Springfield once again drove the length of the field with Carter and junior fullback Alex Mendez handling all the chores. Carter ran for 32 yards on the drive, including a 20-yarder down to the Utica 2, while Mendez ran for 29 yards and the final 2-yard TD to put SC back into the lead, 20-13. The drive lasted 10 plays for 64 yards and took 3:56 off the clock. That TD was scored with exactly nine minutes remaining.
The drama, however, was far from over. Scott was featured on the next six plays (five rushes, one pass completion), and Utica reached the SC 27. Shortly thereafter, Utica had a first-and-10 at the SC 12-yard line. Three plays gained nothing, and Faggiano elected to go for the field goal with 3:50 left to go in the game, rather than risk the fourth-and-long. Sophomore kicker Seth Mitchell did the honors this time, and his 28-yard field goal was true -- making it, 20-16, Springfield.
It was now up to the Utica defense. The Pioneers had two timeouts left at this point. On a third-and-four from the SC 48, Carter rushed for six yards and a first-down. But it still wasn't over. On a fourth-and-one from the Utica 37, Carter sealed it with a three-yard gain on another keeper. SC then ran out the clock on two kneel-downs.
For the Pride, Carter ran for 102 yards and one TD. Myhren had 71 yards and one TD. In a limited roll, Mendez finished with 46 yards and that final TD on 13 carries. King had 41 yards, Safer 30 yards, and Davis 26 yards. Carter was 0-for-3 in passing attempts.
For Utica, Scott led with 78 yards on 22 carries. Benkwitt was 18-for-25 for 201 yards and two TDs passing. He had no interceptions. Meier had nine receptions for 128 yards and one TD.
On defense for Springfield, junior strong safety Matt Ramos had 13 tackles, including nine solos, a forced fumble, and 2.5 tackles-for-loss. Senior inside linebacker Ken Goodwin had 12 tackles, including 2.5 for-loss. Junior inside linebacker Scott Christy finished with 10 tackles and one fumble recovery.
For Utica, the game's leading tackler was senior linebacker Travis Ladd with 16 tackles, including seven solos. Byfield and sophomore defensive end James Brain had 14 tackles apiece. Brain also had a forced fumble.
Next Saturday, Springfield will travel to Ithaca College for a 1 pm league encounter with the Bombers.