NEW HAVEN, CONN. — As LIU Post’s turnovers mounted, Southern Connecticut State’s confidence swelled.
Post, the No. 14 team in the Division II AFCA poll, was vulnerable, and the opposing Owls were ready to prey.
Jeff Kidd remained composed. That trait has become synonymous with the LIU Post quarterback, who has won three Northeast-10 Offensive Player of the Week awards this season. Trailing by two in the fourth quarter, Kidd threw a perfect strike to Kyle Ward for a 45-yard touchdown.
LIU Post has made a habit of riding Kidd in the fourth quarter to victory, and Saturday was no different. The Pioneers overcame six turnovers to beat Southern Connecticut State, 30-23.
“We didn’t perform our best, but I’m proud that we competed,” coach Bryan Collins said. “We faced adversity. The kids didn’t get on each other. Everybody supported each other, and we were able to win a really tough game.”
This was just the latest in the Pioneers’ 7-0 start. They opened the season with a 14-12 victory at Virginia Union and needed a late field goal to beat Bentley, 27-24. Their tallest task was defeating then-No. 15 Assumption College two weeks ago on its homecoming weekend.
Trailing 18-12 in the fourth quarter, Kidd drove the Pioneers to a touchdown with 5:14 left to give LIU Post a 19-18 win.
“It’s a testament to all the guys I’m surrounded by and the coaching staff and the mentality that’s been put into us that we’re battle-tested,” Kidd said.
The Pioneers credit their knack for winning close games — they’re now 4-0 in games decided by seven or fewer points — to last year’s struggles. In 2015, LIU Post narrowly missed the conference playoffs after going 3-2 in such games.
“I think it’s good that we’ve been battle-tested,” said Kidd, a Glendale [Arizona] Community College transfer. “We know what it’s like to be in close games. This year it’s been better that we’re on the other side of it.”
Kidd has been instrumental in leading the offense. Before completing 19 of 28 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns — including two in the fourth quarter — against Southern Connecticut State, Kidd led the conference with a 66.1 percent completion percentage and was second with 15 passing touchdowns.
Collins attributed the 2015 NE-10 all-conference first team member’s dominance to his tremendous leap as a student of the game.
“Last year he really relied predominantly on talent, and this year it’s the preparation with the talent and the familiarity of the conference and our offense,” Collins said. “He prepares as well as anybody I’ve ever had in our program.”
Kidd credited his offensive line and running backs, as well as his deep, talented receiving corps. That group was on display Saturday, when Kidd hit three different receivers for touchdowns, but that has been the case all year. Higgins, Ward and Shane Hubbard, who became the program’s all-time leader in receiving yards on Oct. 8, each caught their fifth touchdown of 2016 on Saturday.
“That makes my job a hundred times easier, knowing that it doesn’t matter who I’m throwing the ball to or handing the ball to,” Kidd said. “I’m surrounded by weapons.”
And those weapons have made LIU Post a dangerous team, regardless of time and score.