UTICA, N.Y. - The Utica College football team (3-5, 0-4 E8) led 19-7 at the half, but Hartwick (5-3, 1-3 E8) outscored the Pioneers 26-8 in the second half en route to a 33-27 Empire 8 Conference victory Saturday on the turf at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. The Pioneers totaled 311 yards of total offense, and freshman Jake Scott (Rochester, NY) carried the ball 22 times for a career-high 108 yards and a touchdown, but it was not enough as the Hawks scored the game's final two touchdowns including the game-winner with 1:19 to go in regulation.
With the score knotted at 27-27 Hartwick forced a punt and gained possession with 2:37 left to go in the contest. Junior running back Nate Rockefeller (Delhi, NY) rattled off three straight first down runs for a total of 55 yards and capped the game-winning touchdown drive with a seven yard plunge with 1:19 to go in the contest to give the Hawks a 33-27 lead. The Pioneers turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession as Hartwick improved to 5-3 overall on the year.
Rockefeller closed out the day with 130 yards rushing on 23 carries for the Hawks, while senior quarterback Brian Radley (Herkimer, NY) completed 11 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns. All three of his touchdown passes were delivered to classmate Noah Koreman (Albany, NY), who finished the day with five catches for 139 yards.
The first half was controlled by Utica and freshman quarterback Andrew Benkwitt (Mamaroneck, NY) played a part in all three of UC’s first half touchdowns. He punched in the first score of the day on a one yard carry to give the Pioneers a 6-0 lead with 5:26 to go in the first quarter of play. He added two 27 yard touchdown passes in the final 2:04 of the first half as the Pioneers’ took a 19-7 lead into the locker room at half. Benkwitt, who finished the day with 168 yards passing on 15 completions, connected with sophomore Jeremy Meier (Rome, NY) for a touchdown at the 2:04 mark and the Pioneers were able to get the ball back and score on a 27 yard touchdown throw to senior Cody Elliot (Sloan, NY) with four seconds left in the half.
Hartwick opened the second half scoring with a 36 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown at the 12:29 mark of the third quarter. Just under ten minutes later Radley connected with Koreman for the second time on the day with a 46 yard touchdown pass to cut the Pioneers’ lead to 20-19, with 3:03 left to go in the third quarter.
UC answered with an 11- play, 62 yard touchdown drive, capped by Jake Scott’s one yard touchdown run to take a 27-20 lead with 13:57 to go in the fourth quarter.
Hartwick’s defense stood strong for the remainder of the contest, and Radley hooked up with Foreman on a ten yard touchdown throw with 9:22 left in the contest to tie the score at 27-27, before the game-winning drive in the final two minutes of the contest.
Senior linebacker Eric Kahl (Lockwood, NY) led the way for the Utica defense with 11 tackles, while classmate Adam Keller (Rome, NY) made nine stops, forced two fumbles and added one sack. Senior defensive lineman Chris Walrath (Little Falls, NY) and junior defensive end Tracy Branch (Bay Shore, NY) each added two sacks. After recording two sacks on the day, Branch moved into second place on the College’s all time sacks list with 10 in three seasons.
Hartwick senior linebacker P.J. Prunty (Danbury, CT) made a game-high 14 stops and picked off one pass, while Ben Tomaino (Oneonta, NY) and Jordan Spirou (Westbury, NY) each tallied 13 tackles. The Hawks defense totaled six sacks and Tomaino played a part in five of them.
The Pioneers return to action next Saturday when they travel to Mt. Ida to take on the Mustangs in a non conference contest at 12 p.m. After a bye week next weekend Hartwick closes out regular season play at home against Empire 8 Conference rival St. John Fisher College on Nov. 14th at 4 p.m.