GENEVA, N.Y. - The Utica College football team was handed its first loss of the young season at the hands of host and nationally-ranked No. 8 Hobart College, 34-21, Saturday night at Boswell Field. Utica struck first with a five yard touchdown plunge by senior running back Jake Larson (Bemus Point, NY/Maple Grove) in the first quarter but the Statesmen took advantage of costly turnovers and rushed for 329 yards on the ground to earn the non-conference victory over the Pioneers.
After falling down 7-0 in the first quarter, Hobart (2-0) used 28 consecutive points in the second and third quarters to take a three touchdown lead over the Pioneers early in the third.
UC responded by outscoring the home team 14-7 in the final 20:27 of the game, but it was not enough as the Statesmen came away with the victory in front of their homecoming crowd of 1,361.
Utica (2-1) will now have a bye week next Saturday before opening up Empire 8 Conference play against Salisbury (1-2) back at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium on Oct. 5th (12 p.m.).
Larson rushed for 111 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns for the Pioneers on a rain-filled evening in Geneva, NY. Junior Anthony Acevedo (New Hartford, NY/New Hartford) lead all wide receivers with 11 catches for 133 yards, while UC quarterback Connor Butkiewicz (Southington, CT/Southington) completed 26-of-44 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown toss late in the game to senior Jamie Murphy (Canadaigua, NY/Marcus Whitman). Acevedo moved into sole possession of third place on the school's all-time receptions list after the 11 catches.
Larson moved into third place on the College's all-time rushing yards list and he needs three touchdowns to become the College's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns for a career. He currently has 15 touchdowns and is tied for second all-time with former UC back Mike Capra.
It was the second time in as many games that the Hobart ground attack was able to eclipse the 300 yard rushing barrier. The biggest contributor was senior running back Steven Webb who produced his 10th career 100 yard rushing effort, as he finished the evening with 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite running 25 fewer plays and having a four-minute deficit in time of possession, Hobart still outgained the Pioneers 398-381. The Statesmen averaged 8.0 yards per carry which was the highest average by a Hobart team in more than a decade.
The Pioneer defense was led by Joe Giametta (Seaford, NY/MacArthur)'s 11 tackles. Senior linebacker Ryan Hansen (Woodcliff Lake, NJ/Pascack Hills) added nine stops, including 1.5 for loss. UC's Mike Sullivan (Whitesboro, NY/Whitesboro) picked off his first pass in the orange and blue, while adding seven tackles. James Lenahan (Mahopac, NY/Mahopac) also had an interception and six tackles. Lenahan now needs one interception to move into sole possession of second place on the College's all-time interceptions list
Hobart got on the board with the first play of the second quarter. Quarterback Patrick Conlan hit junior tight end Mike Berkowitz on an 8-yard scoring play to complete a 2-play drive that covered 28 yards. The short field was set up by senior Devin Worthington, who blocked a Pioneer punt deep.
The defense gave the Statesmen another short field to work with when Toran stripped Larson at the Utica 39. Six plays later, Webb scampered in from 2-yards out for a 14-7 lead.
Utica was forced to punt on its ensuing possession, and Dakota Peel (Alden, NY/Alden)'s 56-yard boot, pinned Hobart back at its own 11. The Statesmen handed the ball to Hartigan on first down and he raced 89 yards to the end zone or a 21-7 lead that Hobart carried into the locker room at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, the Statesmen made it 28 unanswered points with another 1-play scoring drive. This time Webb broke free for 56 yards and his fifth touchdown of the season. He now has 38 career touchdowns, nine shy of the Hobart record.
Utica's offense got back on track with an extended scoring drive that got a boost from three pass interference penalties against the Statesmen. Larson plunged in from the 1 to cap a 10-play, 74-yard march. The extra point was no good, leaving the Pioneers in a 28-13 hole heading into the fourth quarter.
With 8:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, Conlan threw his second TD pass, this one from 18-yards out to junior wideout Elvin Souffrant. The extra point was no good making it a 34-13 Hobart lead.
Utica answered with a 12-play, 74-yard drive that Butkiewicz finished off with a 9-yard throw to senior Jamie Murphy (Canadaigua, NY/Marcus Whitman) to make it a 34-21 game.
Hobart used its ground game to run the final 3:50 off the clock to secure its ninth straight home victory.