Utica Rallies to Defeat Hartwick Football, 20-17
UTICA, NY – Andrew Benkwitt's 16-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maier with 1:04 remaining in the game put Utica in front for the first time and the Pioneers hung on for a 20-17 victory of Hartwick's football team on Saturday at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium in Utica, NY. The Hawks slip to 2-4, and 0-3 in conference play. The Pioneers are 4-2 and 2-1.
After the Pioneers scored the go-ahead touchdown and added a two-point conversion for the three-point lead, the Hawks got the ball back with under a minute to go. 'Wick drove to the UC 33 yard-line and with one second remaining sophomore Harley Edwards (Owego, NY/Owego Free Academy) attempted to tie it with a 50-yard field goal attempt. His kick fell short, however, allowing the Pioneers to escape with the win.
Anthony Casimano (Gansevoort, NY/Schuylerville) ran for 226 yards on 39 carries for the Hawks. It marks the second straight time the senior running back has racked up over 200 rushing yards against the Pioneers after accumulating 232 last season. Quarterback Dan Brainard (Owego, NY/Owego) threw for 147 yards and one touchdown on 12 completions. Senior wide receiver Jordan Wilkins (Portsmouth, NH/Hyde School) caught four balls for 65 yards.
The Hartwick defense was paced by senior linebacker Jordan Spirou (Westbury, NY/WT Clarke), who registered 18 tackles on the day. Junior linebackers Bryan Schweitzer (Babylon, NY/Babylon HS) and RJ Roth (New Windsor, NY/Cornwall Central) added 11 tackles each and senior defensive back Ray Mitchell (White plains, NY/White Plains) contributed 10.
The Hawks, who notched 391 yards of offense in the game, jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their second possession. Casimano ran for 42 yards on seven carries and Brainard hit Wilkins for gains of 21 and 15 yards on the Hawks' scoring drive. The second connection resulted in a Hartwick touchdown and Alex Tesoriero (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia HS) kicked the PAT. The drive was for nine plays and 78 yards.
Utica got in the scoreboard early in the second quarter following an 11-play, 74-yard drive. Jake Larson ran it in from two yards out for the touchdown. The game remained 7-6, however, as the Pioneers' extra point failed.
Both teams had two possessions to close out the half, none of which produced any points. Hartwick drove to the UC 34 on one of those drives but turned the ball over on downs. The Pioneers made it to the HC eight yard-line, but on the final play of the half, Seth Mitchell missed a 25-yarder wide left and the game stayed 7-6 after 30 minutes of action.
After the Hartwick defense forced a 3-and-out on UC's first possession to begin the second half, the Hawks got the ball back and quickly recorded another seven points. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Casimano broke free and ran the ball 74 yards for the touchdown. The 74-yard run was the longest of Casimano's career at Hartwick. Tesoriero added the extra point and Hartwick had its biggest lead of the game, 14-6.
UC lost a fumble and missed another field goal on their next two possessions while the Hawks punted on both of theirs. The Pioneers then started a touchdown-scoring drive with 2:12 left in the third quarter. A Larson 1-yard run early in the fourth would end the 10-play, 65-yard drive and the Pioneers cut the deficit to two, 14-12. The Pioneers went for two but Benkwitt's pass attempt was no good.
The Hawks extended their lead to five on the ensuing possession as Tesoriero nailed a 34-yard field goal with 8:33 remaining. Casimano rushed for 31 yards on seven attempts and Wilkins caught a 25-yard pass from Brainard on the drive. That would be the final points for Hartwick, however, as Utica would score the final eight.
Hartwick's Davionne Price (Bloomville, NY/Delhi) intercepted Benkwitt on the next UC possession, but the Pioneers forced a 3-and-out to get the ball back with 3:55 to play.
Benkwitt would complete all six of his pass attempts on the final drive, including the 16-yard touchdown pass to Meier to put UC ahead. His two-point conversion to Anthony Acevedo was good and the Hawks trailed by three with one more chance left.
Brainard completed four of his first six passes from scrimmage, including a pair of 3rd down conversions, and the Hawks were on the Utica 46 with time winding down. Brainard completed one more pass to Casimano for 13 yards to the UC 33. The Hawks called timeout with one second left but the game-tying field goal was of the mark.
Benkwitt finished the game with 298 yards and one touchdown on 30 completions for Utica. Larson gained 163 yards and Matt Dunn caught nine balls for 96 yards.
Hartwick slips to 8-3 against the Pioneers since their first meeting in 2001. Hartwick had won five straight games between the two teams.
The Hawks return to action next Saturday, October 22 against 18th ranked Salisbury.