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LIU Post routs Merrimack, finishes regular season undefeated

LIU Post running back David White breaks a

LIU Post running back David White breaks a tackle as he rushes during the first half of their football game against Merrimack on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Credit: Mary Schwalm

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The LIU Post football players and coaches gathered near the 40-yard line after the win was sealed. They hugged one another and calmly celebrated after they finished the regular season undefeated, at 10-0, but there was no jumping or shouting.

The No. 10 Pioneers expected to be here. After a 64-7 win over Merrimack on Saturday afternoon at Martone-Mejail Field, LIU Post reached its first milestone of the season, but the Pioneers hope to have a long postseason run ahead of them in the coming weeks.

“It’s exciting that we went 10-0, but it’s not where we want it to end,” quarterback Jeff Kidd said. “We’ve got a lot more to do.”

Kidd returned to the field after a two-week absence because of a right knee injury, and he made it clear right away that he was capable of playing the way he typically does. He finished 21-for-30 with 266 yards and two TDs, sitting the entire second half after dominating the first.

The Pioneers took a 14-0 lead after one quarter. Running back David White scored from 15 yards on Post’s first drive, and two possessions later Kidd hit Kyle Ward in stride on a smooth curl to the outside for a 12-yard TD reception.

Post quickly dismissed any hopes Merrimack (2-8) had at staging an upset, establishing itself as the more physical and explosive team right away. The size mismatch was evident early, and Post’s offensive and defensive line flaunted its skill all game.

“The boys up front did a great job in shutting down the run game and making them one-dimensional,” LIU Post coach Bryan Collins said.

The second quarter was more of the same. Malik Pierre punched it in from 3 yards to to extend the margin to 21-0, then Kidd hit Shane Hubbard for a 3-yard TD strike with 2:15 left in the half. Joey Tolgyesi drilled a 39-yard field goal as time expired, and the Pioneers surged into halftime up 31-0 and in complete control.

While Kidd, Hubbard and White ignited the offense to five scoring drives in the half, the defense was equally impressive. Ten different players registered three or more tackles in the game, led by Anthony DeNunzio with five. Joshua Flowers had two interceptions and Kasim Thomas and Richard Wright added one apiece.

Merrimack struggled to move the ball, picking up just one first down in the first quarter and punting seven times. The Warriors finished with 227 all-purpose yards compared to 534 for the Pioneers.

“Hats off to the defense,” Kidd said. “They keep balling out, and they’re going to keep doing their thing.”

The Pioneers tacked on two more touchdowns in the third quarter and three in the fourth. Thomas returned an interception 18 yards for a TD, and backup QB Michael Campbell hit Michael Hargrove for a 42-yard score late in the third.

Campbell hit Tyler Collins from 12 yards out early in the 4th. Breland Archbold pounced on a fumble in the end zone and Tim Marinan scored from 18 yards out three minutes later. Merrimack found the end zone with 1:12 remaining to avoid the shutout, but Post had done more than enough to cement both the win and the perfect regular season.

Said defensive end Kenny Scotland: “It feels good, but we can’t focus on it too much because we really haven’t done anything yet.”

Perfect 10

Sept. 3 at Virginia UnionW, 14-12

Sept. 10New HavenW, 43-20

Sept. 17at Stonehill CollegeW, 51-20

Sept. 24Bentley UniversityW, 27-24

Oct. 1at Assumption CollegeW, 19-18

Oct. 8Saint AnselmW, 63-20

Oct. 15at So. Conn. St.W, 30-23

Oct. 22American Int’l.W, 22-7

Oct. 29Pace UniversityW, 35-17

Yesterdayat MerrimackW, 64-7

Northeast-10 Conference Championship

Saturday Assumption College, Noon

Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium

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