LIU Post’s defense was settling into position before Pace’s opening drive in the first quarter Saturday afternoon when quarterback Brandon Simmons stepped back from the pocket in search of an open receiver.
He never found one. Pioneers defensive back Nazir Streater collected his first of two interceptions, both of which were in the first quarter.
“We was talking about it all week. The first drive we need a turnover, and it just happened. We spoke it into existence,” said the sophomore defensive back, whose two interceptions highlighted a strong defensive showcase and a 41-6 victory over Pace. “It set the tone, and we got a spark.”
Post (7-0, 6-0 Northeast-10) put on a suffocating defensive display, particularly in the air. The Pioneers did not allow a single completion the entire game (0-for-12) and grabbed a season-high four interceptions. The defense also held Setters senior running back Jhalen Bien-Aime, the Northeast-10 rushing leader entering the game, to 37 yards on 19 carries.
“To be honest, I’ve never seen that before,” Post head coach Bryan Collins said with a smile following the game. “Our team didn’t miss a beat and I’m very proud of the way they performed today after coming off of a week with some injuries.”
The offense fed off the energy the defense was displaying, despite not having senior wide receiver Michael Richardson. Senior quarterback Chris Laviano’s top red-zone target has seven touchdowns this season and is listed as day to day with an undisclosed injury The team also played without senior receiver Amir Crenshaw.
Junior Jake Bofshever helped to fill the void at receiver, catching the team’s first passing touchdown in the second quarter, his first of the season, a 40-yarder from Laviano. He entered the game with just 81 receiving yards under his belt this season, but finished with 61 yards on four receptions. In the third quarter, senior Michael Hartgrove also found the end zone, on a 33-yard pass from Laviano, to give the Pioneers a 31-0 lead. Hartgrove finished with 64 receiving yards on three receptions. Senior wide receiver Deon Mash led the team with 85 yards on six catches.
“We have a lot of depth at receiver,” Laviano said. “We have a lot of chemistry between me and pretty much anyone we put in the game. Obviously, Mikey is a great player, but we do have a lot of depth, which is always great to count on when a guy like that is down.”
Laviano did not miss a beat by not having his favorite target on the field. He was 18-for-32 for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on a 7-yard run just before halftime.
Senior running back Malik Pierre opened the scoring on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter and freshman back Jonathan DeBique capped the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown run with 33 seconds left in the game. Zach Cofrancesco and Connor Farrell had the other two interceptions for the Pioneers.
“We’re really in the playoffs right now, I feel,” Collins said. “Every game for us is a championship week, so we have to prepare that way.”