Last Minute Heroics Guide Utica Past Hartwick

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UTICA, NY – Utica College sophomore quarterback Vinny Aloi (Chester, NY/Chester Academy) made his first collegiate start a memorable one on Saturday night as he completed 14-of-21 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns through the air while adding the game-winning eight yard rushing touchdown with 28 seconds left on the game clock to lift the Pioneers to a 28-24 victory in Empire 8 Conference action at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium.

The Pioneers, who were returning from a tough three game road trip, snapped a three game skid and improved to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in Empire 8 play heading into their bye week. Hartwick (2-3, 1-2 Empire 8) headed to Utica riding the high of a win over St. John Fisher College in week four, but the Hawks suffered another tight loss and have now lost three games this season by a combined six points.

After trailing by as many as 14 points in the third quarter Hartwick rallied with two consecutive touchdowns and a 19 yard field goal from Brian McGovern to take their first advantage (24-21) since the 6:32 marker of the first quarter.

Aloi and the Pioneers rallied with an 8-play 62 yard game-winning drive that ate 2:47 of the clock late in the fourth quarter. Aloi's game-winning touchdown run came from eight yards out and gave the Pioneers a four point lead, 28-24, that they would not relinquish.

Donovan Brunson (White Plains, NY/White Plains) had a breakout day for the Pioneers as he posted a team-best and career-high five catches and a pair of touchdowns. His second TD of the day came at the 11:29 marker of the third quarter and gave the Pioneers a 21-7 lead.

Hartwick jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a 4-play 60 yard drive was capped by a two yard TD plunge from Tito Pritchard. The Pioneers answered with three consecutive touchdowns in a span of 21:09 to take a 21-7 lead with 11:29 to go in the third quarter. Lindell Reed (Rome, NY/Rome Free Academy) tied the game at 7-7 for UC when he punched in a one yard run with 2:38 left in the first quarter. Donovan Brunson (White Plains, NY/White Plains) and Vinny Aloi (Chester, NY/Chester Academy) then connected on two touchdown passes to put the Pioneers on top by 14 points with 11:29 to go in the third quarter.

Hartwick's rally began with a 10 yard TD run from Ronald Ballard to make the score 21-14 in favor of Utica with 8:02 left in the third. The Hawks tied the game up at 21-21 after David Van Alstine returned an interception 25 yards for a score to open the fourth quarter scoring.

Aloi carried the ball 16 times for a team-high 94 yards and the game-winning score, while Nicodemus Gambill (Rochester, NY/East High) posted 17 carries for 87 yards on the evening. Tight end Alex Damiani(Lancaster, NY/Lancaster) caught two balls for 33 yards, while Darrell Jones II (Coram, NY/Longwood) made four grabs for 21 yards.

Derrick Sekuterski (Depew, NY/Depew) made a game-high 13 tackles and broke up one pass, while Ryan Oliver (Vernon Center, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) broke out with seven tackles, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery.

The Utica defense sacked Hartwick quarterback Billy Pine four times on the afternoon. Robbie Schempp(Webster, NY/Webster Thomas) led the defensive line with 1.5 sacks while Jack Derby (Fonda, NY/Fultonville Fonda) added one sack and also forced on fumble. Mark Hackett led Hartwick with 13 tackles.

UC returns to action in two weeks when it travels to St. John Fisher College to take on the Cardinals in E8 action at 6 p.m. Hartwick returns home next weekend when it hosts Morrisville State on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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