Utica & Hartwick To Meet in Inaugural "Battle in the Valley"

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Utica, N.Y. - The Utica College football program will square off against visiting Hartwick College Saturday, Oct. 15th in the inaugural "Battle in the Valley" on the turf at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium.  The rivalry game was a concept proposed by the student-athletes and all proceeds from this year's contest will benefit the Westside Soup Kitchen at St. Joseph & St. Patrick Church in West Utica.  

"Rivalry games are a fun part of college football and it gives us an opportunity to help out a different local charity each year," said fourth year Head Coach Blaise Faggiano. "We both (Hartwick & Utica) have relatively younger programs and it's always a battle when we play, so when the idea was presented to Coach Carr and I, we felt like it was a perfect fit."

The Meaning Behind "Battle In the Valley"

Each year the contest will be played in a valley - Oneonta, N.Y. is located in the Susquehanna River Valley, and Utica, N.Y. is located in the Mohawk Valley – hence the name "Battle in the Valley".  The two schools are only 60 miles apart and they are both members of the Empire 8 Conference, guaranteeing at least one scheduled meeting between the two programs each year. 

"Every year we see these rivalry games pop up at different schools and they really generate a lot of excitement," said Utica junior offensive lineman Tom Dyer, who initially presented the Battle in the Valley idea to Coach Faggiano. "Hartwick is traditionally one of our biggest rivals and this is also a great opportunity for us to give back to the community that comes out to support us." 

The All-Time Series (Pre-Battle)

Since 2001, UC and Hartwick have played each other once a year. Hartwick currently leads the all-time series with a commanding 8-2 advantage.  However, six games in the series have been decided by ten points or less.  Utica won by two points in 2005 and Hartwick won by two points in the epic 72-70 quadruple overtime thriller in 2007. The combined total of 142 points still stands strong as the highest scoring game in the history of NCAA Division III football.  Hartwick has won five straight games against Utica, but the last four meetings have been extremely close, including a 24-21 victory for the Hawks last season.

More About the Battle

T-shirts will be sold throughout the contest for $10 and a 50/50 raffle will also be held, with the majority of the proceeds going directly to Westside Soup Kitchen.  A trophy will be engraved with the name of the winning team each season and that team will have the rights to the trophy until the next meeting between the two program's. 

The Game

Saturday's game will begin at 1 p.m. and it is a part of the College's homecoming weekend.  Saturday's game - and all Utica College games - will be broadcast on the radio at WTLB 1310 AM. Links for live stats for Saturday's contest will be available at www.ucpioneers.com. Live streaming video can be accessed online at empire8.tv and fans can now watch live video on their Iphone, Android or Blackberry devices at m.empire8.tv. Live streaming audio can also be accessed on WTLB's new website, www.espnur.com. All of UC's home games will also be broadcast on WPNR 90.7 FM.

The Teams

Utica College (3-2, 0-2 Empire 8): The Pioneers are fresh off a 38-28 victory over host RPI last Saturday, marking the Pioneers tenth straight non-conference victory.  Utica is currently averaging 36.6 points per game to go along with an average of 430.6 yards of total offense per contest.   Junior quarterback Andrew Benkwitt leads the Pioneers' offensive unit with 1,344 yards passing this season.  He has thrown 14 touchdowns and boasts a completion percentage of 66.1 (111-of-168).  Junior running back Jake Larson and sophomore receiver Anthony Acevedo have both come on strong as of late. Larson has rushed for 100+ yards in two consecutive contests, including a career-best 173 yard effort against RPI on Saturday.  Acevedo has registered 100+ yards receiving in each of the last three games and he leads UC with 32 catches for 517 yards. Junior safety Luke Manolescu leads UC with 45 tackles this year and he also has a team-best three pass breakups.   Junior defensive end Michael Herberger ranks second in the conference with four sacks. 

Hartwick College (2-3, 0-2 Empire 8): The Hawks look to snap a three game slide on Saturday when they head to Utica.  However, Hartwick took nationally-ranked No. 23 Alfred University to overtime last Saturday, eventually falling 32-29.  The Hartwick defense has allowed just 18.2 points per contest so far this season.  Senior linebacker Jordan Spirou leads the team and ranks fourth in the conference with 51 total tackles.  He leads the Empire 8 with five sacks this season.  Spirou also has one interception and one fumble recovery.  Senior quarterback Dan Brainard has completed 77 passes for 953 yards and five touchdowns this year.  Four of his touchdown passes were thrown to all-conference receiver Jordan Wilkins.  Wilkins leads the Hawks with 31 catches for 555 yards this year.

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