UTICA, NY (WKTV) - The Utica College football team fell into an early 21-0 hole and could not quite finish the comeback as the Pioneers lost to visiting Hartwick College, 21-10, in their regular season finale on Saturday afternoon at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium.
UC (3-7) made a late push as sophomore wide receiver Chris Williams (Fairfax Station, VA/Lake Braddock) caught an incredible one-handed touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone from junior quarterback Connor Butkiewicz (Southington, CT/Southington) to cut UC's deficit to 11 points with 2:20 remaining in the contest. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, the comeback came just a little late.
The Hawks (6-4, 3-4 Empire 8), who will be in the running for an ECAC Bowl bid, did all of their damage early, taking a 14-0 lead in the first 4:12 of the contest behind two touchdown passes from John Garcia to Tanner Williams. Hartwick pushed their lead to 21-0 just 2:20 into the second quarter when Kurtis Ahart punched in an eight yard run to give the Hawks a commanding advantage. Ahart finished the day with 150 yards rushing on 29 carries, while Tanner Williams caught seven passes for 115 yards.
The Utica defense really clamped down on Hartwick after the early barrage. The Pioneers shut out the Hawks in the final 42:40 of the contest and they allowed just 23 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter. Senior linebacker Joe Giametta (Seaford, NY/MacArthur) racked up his typical ten tackles, while James Lenahan (Mahopac, NY/Mahopac) and Ryan Hansen (Woodcliff Lake, NJ/Pascack Hills) each added seven.
The Pioneers amassed 331 yards of total offense on the afternoon (165 yards rushing, 166 yards passing), but they had trouble converting on third down, going 6-for-17 on the day.
Utica sophomore kicker Thomas Woodburn (West Islip, NY/West Islip) knocked down a 27 yard field goal late in the second quarter to send the contest into the half with the score set at 21-3.
Utica freshman running back Ryan Burnett carried the ball 14 times for 88 yards (averaged 6.3 yards per carry), while senior Jake Larson (Bemus Point, NY/Maple Grove) rushed the ball 11 times for 48 yards to cap his stellar career at UC.
Wide receiver Gregory Palmer (Richland, NY/APW) caught a career-high nine passes for 86 yards, while senior Sean Jones (Whitesboro, NY/Whitesboro) added four catches for 41 yards. Chris Williams (Fairfax Station, VA/Lake Braddock) caught two balls on the day, including the touchdown late in the contest, his first of the season.
Hartwick was led on the defensive side of the ball by senior Richie DiVirgilio, who racked up eight tackles and broke up one pass. Senior linebacker Bryan Schweitzer added seven tackles and broke up two passes, while Midnet Cantave also secured seven tackles and a pass break up.
Connor Butkiewicz (Southington, CT/Southington) completed 16-of-32 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown for UC before being relieved by Teddy Van Galen. VanGalen came on and completed 4-of-8 passes for 32 yards.