UTICA, NY- The Hartwick football team got out to a 21-3 lead at halftime and the defense held Utica to just one touchdown late in the fourth quarter as the Hawks came away with a 21-10 victory over the Pioneers on Saturday afternoon at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. The win gives the Hawks a 6-4 overall record and 3-4 mark in the Empire 8 Conference which are the most since 2008. Utica ends its season with a final record of 3-7 overall and 1-6 in the E8.
The Hawks came out firing in the first quarter as they scored on their first two drives of the game. Hartwick started its first possession at midfield after Travis Samuels (New City, NY/Clarkstown North) took the opening kickoff 31 yards. Kurtis Ahart (Spencer, NY/Spencer Van Etten) ran twice for 22 yards and aided by a Utica facemask penalty, Hartwick had the ball at the Utica 13. After Ahart was stopped for a loss, quarterback John Garcia (Warwick, NY/Warwick Valley) connected with Tanner Williams (Eagle Bridge, NY/Hoosick Falls) for the touchdown and with Alexander Tesoriero's (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia) extra point, 'Wick was up 7-0 with 12:35 remaining in the opening quarter.
After the defense forced a three and out from UC, the Hawks got the ball back at their own 39 yard line. Ahart rushed for two yards to the 41. Garcia then connected with Williams for 8, 33, and finally 18 yards for Hartwick's second touchdown of the day and with Tesoriero's extra point, it was 14-0 'Wick with 8:48 showing on the clock.
Utica started to show some life on its ensuing possession. The Hartwick defense thought it had forced a three and out, but a holding penalty gave the Pioneers extra life and moved the ball to the Hawks' 44. UC would move to the Hartwick 10 and with a third and one, Utica running back Jake Larson would be stopped for a loss of one yard by the combination of Nate Farley (Amsterdam, NY/Amsterdam) and Joe Seney (Gloversville, NY/Broadalbin-Perth). The Pioneers lined up for a field goal try but were flagged for offsides which moved the ball back five yards. From there, kicker Thomas Woodburn missed a 32-yard attempt wide left and the Hartwick lead was still 14-0.
After the two teams exchanged punts, the Hawks had the ball at 14:51 of the second quarter at their own 40. Garcia hooked up with Williams on a 37-yard play which moved the Hawks to the Utica 28. Ahart had runs of 17, 3, and then scampered in from the 8-yard line for the score and 'Wick increased its advantage to 21-0 after Tesoriero's extra point at 12:40.
Utica began its next drive at its own 35. The Pioneers moved into Hartwick territory but the Hawks' defense forced three straight incompletions to bring up a 4th and 10 from the Hartwick 37. UC elected to go for it and Connor Butkiewicz ran eight yards but was stopped short of the first down marker as the Hawks took over on downs.
Hartwick had the ball at its own 29 and was able to move to Utica's 47 but not any further as it was forced to punt. After punts from both teams, UC had possession at the Hartwick 48. A 20-yard Butkiewicz-to-Sean Jones completion gave Utica the ball at the 'Wick 25. Larsen ran for 10 yards and Butkiewicz found Chris Williams for a five-yard pass to the 'Wick 10. The Hawks' defense forced two straight incompletions and Woodburn came out for a 27-yard field goal which he made to make it 21-3 Hartwick at halftime.
The Pioneers received the second half kickoff and started the third quarter at their own 20. A Butkiewicz to Gregory Palmer six-yard completion followed by runs of 30 and two yards by Ryan Burnett put Utica at the Hartwick 44. UC looked to threaten as Butkiewicz heaved a long bomb downfield but he would picked off by Hawks safety Jared Morrow (Ogdensburg, NY/Ogdensburg) and the defense would stop the Utica threat.
Hartwick's next drive would end at the Utica 38 after Ahart was stopped for no gain on fourth down. The Pioneers took over on downs but their drive would also end on fourth down at the Hartwick 49 when running back Dakota Peel was stopped for a loss of three yards by Rob Burke (Wantagh, NY/Wantagh). The Hawks drove to the Utica 9 where Tesoriero's 27-yard field went just left of the post and Hartwick's lead was still 21-3 with 3:08 left to play in the third period.
Both defenses stiffened up as neither offense could gain any momentum. Following a Hartwick punt, the Pioneers took over at their own 48. Butkiewicz led UC downfield to the 'Wick 17 where he hit Williams for a touchdown and with Woodburn's extra point, the Hartwick lead was down to 21-10 at 2:20.
The Pioneers lined up for the onside kick but the Hartwick hands team was ready as Williams recovered the kick for the Hawks. Hartwick converted for the first down on a Nick Knauer (Wynantskill, NY/Tamarac) three-yard run to seal the win for the Hawks.
Offensively, Ahart ended the game with 150 yards rushing on a season-high 29 carries and one touchdown. Garcia added 20 yards on the ground while Knauer contributed 14 yards. Williams had seven catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Garcia had nine completions for 142 yards and two touchdown passes.
For Utica, Burnett rushed for 88 yards on 14 carries. Larson tacked on 48 rushing yards. Palmer had nine catches for 86 yards and Jones caught four balls for 41 yards. Butkiewicz completed 16 passes for 134 yards and threw one touchdown.
On defense, Richie DiVirgilio (Windsor, NY/Windsor Central) had eight tackles, one for a loss, and one pass breakup. Midnet Cantave (Spring Valley, NY/Spring Valley), Bryan Schweitzer (Babylon, NY/Babylon), and R.J. Roth (Cornwall, NY/Cornwall Central) all had seven tackles each. Cantave also had one pass breakup while Schweitzer had two. Roth added a sack and had two tackles for losses. Joe Giametta was in on 10 tackles for the Pioneers.
The Hawks now await to see if they will be selected to an ECAC Bowl. Teams and matchups will be announced on Monday.