It wasn't always pretty for LIU Post in its first conference game as a member of the Northeast-10 conference since 2007. But when it came time to make a play the offense and defense both came up big as the Pioneers beat Southern Connecticut State, 24-12, at Hickox Field in Brookville Saturday afternoon.
"With the type of offense we run it's never really pretty, it's so fast paced and it's kind of hit or miss," junior quarterback Steven Laurino said. "When we hit, we hit big and that's important and sends a message."
The pace of the offense and Laurino's ability to improvise are key elements.
"If you watch the NFL, Division I, high school, if the quarterback scrambles for a first down on third-and-long it's just a backbreaker," Laurino said. "[The defense feels] like they did their job but the quarterback does a little bit extra and it kills them. I'm lucky I was born with that."
Laurino highlighted that ability on the game's first score in the first quarter. After scrambling out of the pocket he found Joe Botti open near the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown. Laurino finished 18-for-30 passing for 206 yards and two touchdowns and he ran for 94 yards on 17 carries.
"We feel very confident when he's out there," LIU Post coach Bryan Collins said. "We're giving him more opportunities to make his own checks now with his experience and he also has the ability to get you out of a bad call because he improvises so well."
Post took a 17-6 lead into halftime but Southern Connecticut drove to Post's 2-yard line on its first possession of the third quarter before failing to convert on fourth-and-goal. The Owls took over at Post's 27-yard line on its next drive after a misplay by the punter. Southern Connecticut finally capitalized on a 2-yard touchdown run by John Moscatel to cut Post's lead to 17-12.
The teams traded ineffective drives until Post's Tommy Williams made the first of his two interceptions on a tipped ball with just over three minutes remaining. After his 33-yard return the Pioneers got some needed insurance on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jeff Mack.
"Those picks were just lucky bounces that came to me," Williams said. "Sometimes you just have to have luck."
It wasn't luck that the Pioneers' defensive line was able to get consistent pressure on Southern Connecticut quarterback Jacob Jablonski and come up with timely plays.
"We had some injuries on offense so it was tough for us to move the ball in the second half," Collins said. "The defense was bending but didn't break and we played good situational defense down in the red zone. That was the difference -- the situational defense that we played."