LIU Post quarterback Steven Laurino passes during a game against...

LIU Post quarterback Steven Laurino passes during a game against American International College on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

At halftime Saturday, LIU Post found itself in a familiar position.

Six of the Pioneers' 10 games this season had been decided by a touchdown or less. Trailing host American International by six points after the first 30 minutes of the Northeast-10 championship game, LIU Post (8-3) appeared headed for another nail-biter, not the 58-25 rout that would earn the conference title.

"We regrouped in the locker room," senior wide receiver Kamron Palmer said. "We came together. It's not our first time facing adversity."

Senior quarterback Steven Laurino said: "We knew that we had the potential to blow it open. It was just a matter of executing. We knew we could make plays. We knew we could get turnovers. And we knew that offensively, we could score quickly."

After the Pioneers forced a three-and-out to begin the third quarter, they grabbed a 17-16 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle by Laurino to cap a 64-yard drive.

AIC (8-3) briefly regained the lead after Kevin Arduino passed to Maurice Easterling for a 2-yard score that made it 23-17 with 5:30 left in the third.

But from there, Post put its foot on the gas. A muffed kickoff and another quick three-and-out by the Yellow Jackets allowed the Pioneers three possessions in the quarter's final three minutes. Laurino completed three touchdown passes in that span -- two to Palmer and one to sophomore Shane Hubbard -- to give Post a 37-23 lead.

"Once we got a couple of turnovers and our offense capitalized, it just snowballed from there," Post coach Bryan Collins said.

Laurino added a 72-yard touchdown pass to Palmer in the fourth, and sophomores Mike Williams and David White each added rushing touchdowns.

"[Laurino's] been a playmaker his whole entire career," Collins said. "And our receivers did a fantastic job of going and getting the ball. Then the offensive line came alive in the second half and started pounding them and opened up the running game for us."

Laurino completed 30 of 57 passes for 413 yards and five touchdowns against an AIC defense that entered the game ranked second in the conference by holding opponents to 19.7 points per game.

"They have a very talented defense, but we have the best offense in the conference," Laurino said. "We just had to execute and have offense and defense on the same page at once."

Hubbard had 10 catches for 172 yards and a touchdown, and Palmer had five catches for 118 yards and three scores.

"I have to give it up to the play calling," Palmer said. "Our runs were working, so it opened up the pass. We were a balanced offense. It was just a matter of getting things going." will broadcast the Division II selection show Sunday at 5 p.m., when the Pioneers will see if their win propels them into the playoffs, but in the meantime, they will continue to savor the title.

"Words can't explain it," Palmer said. "Every senior that's on this team has been through a lot. And just to finish off this way . . . It's unreal."


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