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Lightning delay drains energy from LIU Post

LIU Post receiver James Higgins brings in the

LIU Post receiver James Higgins brings in the pass after getting by East Stroudsburg defensive back Dean Vitale in a Division II football game against East Stroudsburg at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium at LIU Post in Brookville on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. Credit: Steven Ryan

The LIU Post Pioneers had all the momentum early in the fourth quarter of their season-opening game with East Stroudsburg on Saturday afternoon. Then, with a flash, the momentum shifted.

Though this time, the flash wasn't purely metaphorical, it lit up the Brookville sky. A lightning delay came with the Pioneers ahead by 12 points with 11:27 left in the game, halting play for 1 hour, 27 minutes. When action resumed, the tides turned rapidly.

After the delay, the Pioneers allowed 20 unanswered points and fell 43-35 at the newly christened Durrell "Bronko" Pearsall Field at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium.

"The break really killed us," Pioneers receiver Shane Hubbard said.

Hubbard, a redshirt sophomore in his first start, made 10 catches for 142 yards and one touchdown.

A 3-yard TD run by East Stroudsburg quarterback Matt Soltes with 4:40 left put the Warriors up for good, 36-35.

The Pioneers still had a chance in the final minute.

Quarterback Steven Laurino orchestrated a 69-yard drive that brought the Pioneers to the East Stroudsburg 3-yard line, facing third-and-goal with 16 seconds remaining. Two incomplete passes, one intended for Kamron Palmer and the other for James Higgins, effectively ended the game.

"It was a good drive," Laurino said. "It had a lot of bad plays, but we made a few good plays to march down the field. It's a defense that I can easily say we're better than, offensively . . . We had pass interference on the last play, but they're never going to call that."

Laurino was 28-for-43 for 351 yards, threw two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Perhaps the most costly of those interceptions came with 3:58 remaining. On first-and-10 from the Post 44, Laurino threw off his back foot, launching a heave into the arms of Teron Dobbs.

"A running back didn't get into his route," Laurino said. "Pre-snap, we had a coverage that would have given me the running back in the flat. He picked up a blitzer instead of getting into the flat. Because of that, I made a mistake. I sailed it a little high and was a little impatient. I should have hung in there and drilled it."

Three plays later, Soltes found Dusty Reed for a 50-yard touchdown pass to put the Warriors ahead by eight.

"The hardest thing is overcoming a loss when you know you're better than the team," Laurino said. "When you come into a game and get your butt kicked, so be it. But when you play a team you know you're better than and you end up losing, that's hard. But we're going to be fine . . . We go into [Northeast-10] play next week and it's like a fresh season for us."

Notes & quotes: East Stroudsburg receiver Robert Healy, a redshirt sophomore from East Meadow, made four catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

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