SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (WNYT) - Senior quarterback Andrew Benkwitt tossed five touchdowns to lead the Utica College football team to a 45-17 road win over Union College Saturday night at Frank Bailey Field. The Pioneers improve to 2-0 while the Dutchmen fall to 0-1 on the season.
The Dutchmen got on the board first on a 46 yard run by T.J. Franzese at 3:55 in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead. UC answered a little over two minutes later as Benkwitt and senior wide receiver Jeremy Meier hooked up on a 28 yard pass with 1:16 left in the first quarter to knot the game up at 7-7. The Pioneers used a 69 yard- sixplay drive to get in the end zone.
UC junior linebacker Ryan Hansen intercepted a pass on the next Union drive and returned it 32 yards to the Dutchmen 14 yard line setting up a go ahead score for Utica. The Pioneers called a timeout, at 13:54 in the second, before converting a third down score to take a 14-7 lead. Benkwitt found senior Matt Dunn, preseason All-American selection, in the end zone for their second hook up of the season.
Union would put together a nine play drive, totaling 43 yards, resulting in a field goal to pull with four points of the lead with 9:44 remaining in the half. However, Utica retaliated with back-to-back touchdowns to take a 28-10 lead into the locker room.
UC used a nine play drive, moving 43 yards to push to a 21-10 edge. Benkwitt and Meier climaxed the drive with a six-yard hook up with 6:11 left.
Then, just under three minutes later, new addition linebacker Joe Giametta forced a fumble only to be recovered by sophomore safety James Lenahan setting up another Pioneer push. Utica managed to string together another impressive drive as it went 64 yards on 10 plays to insure an 18 point edge into halftime. This time junior tight end Logan Jandrew snagged a one-yard pass from Benkwitt.
The Pioneers opened up the third quarter with consecutive scores to take a commanding, 42-10, lead over the Dutchmen. Benkwitt tossed his fifth TD of the evening, at 13:07, on a 36 yard homerun to senior Paul Smith before junior running back Jesse Baldassare put the nail in the coffin on a one yard run with 8:23 left in the quarter. The home team did answer, with a 36 yard touchdown pass of its own at 5:56, however proved too late as UC took control of the clock to move to 2-0 on the early season.
The final quarter showed just three drives, two by UC and one by the Dutchmen, including a UC field goal at 6:01.
Benkwitt completed an impressive 20-of-29 passes for 260 yards and five touchdowns in his second game of his senior campaign.
Balassare controlled the workload in the back field rushing for 141 yards on 25 carries and a score while tallying four catches for 33 yards.
Meier lead the receiving core with 60 yards on four grabs and two touchdowns while Smith, Dunn and senior Jamie Murphy each caught three passes for a combined 142 yards.
On the defensive side, Giametta racked up a game-high 16 tackles of which 12 were solo while senior safety Luke Manolescu accompanied with 12 tackles of his own.
UC returns to action Saturday as it hosts Hobart College under the lights of Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.