The Utica College football team jumped out to a 35-0 lead in the first half and never looked back on its way to a convincing 45-21 victory over Catholic University in the home opener for the Pioneers at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman quarterback Logan Wilcox (Utica, NY/Proctor) shined in his collegiate debut as he completed 22-of-32 passes for 259 yards and four touchdowns to help the Pioneers improve to 2-0 on the young season. Junior Peyton Miller (Chemung, NY/Waverly) made a career-high 13 catches for 141 yards and three touchdowns, while freshman Nate Palmer (Verona, NY/Vernon Verona Sherrill) caught three balls for 69 yards and one score.
The Pioneer defense held Catholic (0-2) to just seven points in the first half and the home team took a convincing 35-7 lead into the locker room at the half. Anthony Beaubrun (West Hempstead, NY/West Hempstead) and Kwasi Addo (Menands, NY/Shaker) each posted eight tackles for the Pioneers. Addo also added one sack for the Utica defense. Matt Stone (Rochester, NY/Brighton) picked off two passes and added two tackles.
Catholic posted 21 points in a span of 15:57 midway through the contest, but the Cardinals comeback bid fell short as their record dropped to 0-2 on the season.
Wilcox's first collegiate possesion was a nine-play 50 yard scoring drive capped by a 10 yard touchdown pass to Miller to give UC an early first quarter lead. Palmer then caught his first collegiate touchdown pass with 5:57 to go in the first quarter to give the Pioneers a 14-0 lead.
Sophomore running back Lamont McGriff (Yonkers, NY/Iona Prep) found pay dirt from two yards out early in the second quarter to give the home team a three score lead, 21-0. Miller then caught his second TD pass of the day in the corner of the end zone with 11:20 left in the first half to put the Pioneers on top 28-0.
Cornerback Ben Vargas (Holbrook, NY/Sachem East) gave the Pioneers a 35-0 lead with 5:05 to go in the first half when he returned an interception 60 yards for a score to essentially put the game away.
Catholic got on the board just before halftime as Trey Carson caught and 8-yard touchdown pass from Brady Berger to make it a 35-7 ballgame after 30 minutes of action.
UC kicker Dan Tette (Rochester, NY/West Irondequoit) delivered on a career-long 38 yard field goal at 12:55 of the third quarter to put the Pioneers on top 38-7. The visitors answered with a score to make it 38-14, but the Pioneers responded with a 27 yard jump ball touchdown from Wilcox to Miller to cap the scoring on the day for Utica (45-14).
Malcolm Stowe (Coram, NY/Longwood) carried the ball four times for a team-high 38 yards on the day, while McGriff finished the afternoon with 36 yards rushing and a TD out of the backfield for UC. Antonio Scala (Coram, NY/Longwood), Kevin Chisari (Oakland, NJ/Indian Hills) and Keanu Heedram (Rochester, NY/Rush-Henrietta) each posted six tackles on the day for the Utica defense.
Catholic's Brady Berger completed 25 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions for the Cardinals. Trey Carson caught 10 balls for 109 yards and two scores for the visitors from Washington, D.C.
Utica returns home for the second of four straight home games next Saturday when the Pioneers host RPI on Indium High School & Oneida County Stop DWI Day at Gaetano Stadium. The contest is scheduled to kickoff at 12 p.m.