LIU Post quarterback Yianni Gavalas expected various different formations from the Pace defense Saturday. And when the Setters heavily committed to limiting running back Malik Pierre, daring Gavalas to beat them, he made them pay a hefty price.
Gavalas shredded the Pace defense, completing 25 of 34 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns as Post cruised to a 41-14 Northeast-10 road victory.
“They were really stacking the box and played a lot of man-defense on the outside, trying to stop the run, so I just took what the defense was giving me,” Gavalas said.
Coach Bryan Collins boiled down the quarterback’s success during the current three-game winning streak to an increased comfort level following the team’s bye to begin the month.
“Yianni’s feeling a lot more comfortable since the bye with our schemes,” Collins said. He’s starting to make checks at the line of scrimmage on his own.”
Pierre caught two of the touchdown passes and ran for two other scores, his second game in a row with four TDs.
After Pace (3-5, 2-5 NE-10) evened the score at 7 with 14:11 remaining in the first half on a 2-yard touchdown run by Anthony Carter-Guy, the Pioneers ripped off five unanswered touchdowns in the second and third quarters. Pierre recorded the first three on a 1-yard carry followed up by receptions of 8 and 14 yards.
Pierre, who first put Post (6-2, 5-2) on the board by punching in a 1-yard touchdown with 3:47 remaining in the first, had energized the offensive attack over the previous two games with his dominance on the ground and special teams. On Saturday, he rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries, and made seven catches for 52 yards, often taking advantage of mismatches as a slot receiver.
“I love playing the slot,” Pierre said. “We were really just trying to keep the defense off balance.”
Gavalas said, “Pierre is definitely the most versatile guy in the league.”
Michael Richardson’s 52-yard TD catch and Deon Mash’s 30-yard touchdown reception with 30 seconds left in the third concluded Post’s offensive attack, giving the Pioneers a commanding 41-7 advantage.
Collins was equally impressed with his defense, particularly the line, which limited NE-10 leading rusher Jhalen Bien-Aime to 85 yards on 23 carries.
“We just made sure to get penetration and make our plays,” said defensive lineman Abel Joseph, who had four tackles and a sack. “We disguised our looks a little more so the offensive line couldn’t get too many double teams.”