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LIU Post ready for playoff showdown against No. 3 Shepherd

LIU Post Pioneers wide receiver Shane Hubbard breaks away

LIU Post Pioneers wide receiver Shane Hubbard breaks away after a catch against the Winston Salem University Rams on Saturday November 19, 2016. Credit: Lee S Weissman

There are no more secrets or guessing games. At this point in the season, you are what you are.

And LIU Post (12-0) is a football team that thrives with the passing game.

“As far as what’s working for us and what’s our bread-and-butter, that’s not going to change,” coach Bryan Collins said. “That’s what got us here.”

But host Post’s opponent Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs plays the same game. Third-seeded Shepherd (11-0) is led by senior Jeff Ziemba, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns last week in a 48-31 victory over Assumption.

Senior quarterback Jeff Kidd has headlined Post’s aerial attack, amassing 2,537 yards and completing 66 percent of his passes. He has thrown for 27 touchdowns.

Kidd’s arm is partially the reason for Post’s success, but a diverse group of wide receivers has helped him lead the Pioneers to a historic season.

“We have an excellent group of receivers,” Collins said. “It’s their ballcatching ability that sets them aside.”

Ditto for Shepherd, which has standout receivers Billy Brown and CJ Davis. Brown had a career-high 12 receptions for 193 yards and three touchdowns against Assumption.

Post’s top receiver is fifth-year senior Shane Hubbard, who makes difficult catches look easy. Ball skills and a knack for catching passes in traffic make him Kidd’s go-to weapon. In last weekend’s 48-41 win over Winston-Salem State, he was especially effective on third downs.

Collins said Hubbard is a possible NFL prospect and that several pro teams have watched him on tape. He leads the Pioneers with 82 catches, 893 yards and nine touchdowns.

Redshirt juniors Kyle Ward and Connetquot graduate James Higgins are complementary receivers. Ward acts as a speedy vertical threat and Higgins operates out of the slot.

Ward has totaled 643 yards and eight touchdowns on 46 catches. Higgins, who Collins said has the best hands he has ever seen at Post, has 38 catches for 405 yards and seven touchdowns.

“[Kidd] doesn’t lock in on one guy,” Collins said. “He throws to all three of them, as well as checking it down to our backs out of the backfield. I think everybody kind of feeds off each other.”

Running backs Malik Pierre, a Sachem North graduate, and David White have 44 and 27 catches, respectively. Each has recorded two receiving touchdowns. Post averages 38.3 points per game, 22nd in Division II.

There’s no sense in changing to cater to an opponent when the offense has been prolific through 12 games. A strong passing game supplemented by consistent running by Pierre and White is Collins’ formula.

Post knows its bread-and-butter.


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