LIU Post's undefeated regular season was at risk against the University of New Haven on Saturday when the Pioneers trailed by three with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter.
After senior wide receiver Michael Richardson caught a 44-yard touchdown pass to put the Pioneers up by four, senior defensive back Jake Carlock intercepted a pass and later made the game-ending tackle at the Post 1-yard line to push his team past the Chargers, 17-13, for the Northeast-10 Conference championship.
“We’re deep at every position and were ready to roll," Carlock said. "The boys came out to play. I’m a little tired right now, but not tired enough to go celebrate with the boys.”
The clutch plays from Carlock and Richardson in the fourth quarter helped solidify the victory at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium on the LIU Post campus in Brookville, and gave Post (10-0, 9-0) its third conference title in the past five seasons. Next fall, the team will move up to Division I.
“Those great players make plays in big moments, and he [Carlock] certainly stepped up,” Post head coach Bryan Collins said. “He’s a great player for us. Our big guys are making big plays and that’s why we have been successful.”
Carlock did not save his defensive energy for just the fourth quarter. He anchored the Pioneers’ defense all game and played a significant role in stopping New Haven from scoring on numerous drives that ended short of the end zone. He also recovered a fumble near the end zone in the second quarter, made seven tackles in addition to his interception.
“He’s our guy,” Collins said. “He’s one of the best players we have ever had here at Post, at any position. I thought their offense was very explosive. I know they got their yards, but our defense played solid all afternoon. To hold that team to 13 points is a great effort. We did enough offensively to keep the ball, score some points and get the win.”
New Haven quarterback Ajee Patterson was 32-for-49 for 366 passing yards and one touchdown. Chargers wide receiver Ju’An Williams made 13 catches for 217 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown 59 seconds before halftime.
Post senior quarterback Chris Laviano went 16-for-25 for 198 yards and the touchdown pass to Richardson, who had six receptions for 101 yards.
Pioneers running back Malik Pierre carried 24 times for 151 yards and scored on a 1-yard run with 10:03 remaining in the second quarter.
Post clinched a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs that begin next weekend, and will find out who they play when the 28 teams are announced Sunday.