PETERSBURG, Va.- Making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in nearly 10 years, the No. 6 seed LIU Post football team fell to third-seeded Virginia State, 28-17, in a first-round clash Saturday at Rogers Stadium.
Trailing 7-0 midway through the second quarter, the Pioneers (8-4) capitalized on great field position to even the contest with 8:34 left before halftime. After the Trojans (10-2) were flagged for kick catching interference, LIU Post started with the football in plus-territory. From the Virginia State 48, red-shirt senior quarterback Steven Laurino (Boise, Idaho) staged a seven-play, 48-yard series that resulted in a 20-yard touchdown pass to Shane Hubbard (St. Albans, N.Y.).
The green and gold managed to drive down into the red zone on their next possession, but senior defensive back Andre Rawls (Franklin, Va.) picked off a Laurino pass at his own 17-yard line, and took it back 83 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Pioneers quickly overcame that turnover, and went on to score the final 10 points of the half to bring a 17-14 cushion into the locker room. A Laurino one-yard keeper into the end zone re-tied the game, while senior kicker Karsten Viste (Randaberg, Norway) drilled a 34-yard field goal just as time expired to give the visitors their only lead of the contest.
The entire second half belonged to Virginia State, as it outscored LIU Post, 14-0, in the final two quarters to advance to a second-round date at Bloomsburg. However, the visitors had a couple of golden opportunites to put points on the board go awry.
Trailing 21-17 late in the third quarter, Viste pushed a 23-yard field goal to the right of the goalpost. Then, in the fourth, Laurino, trailing by two possessions (28-17), tossed his third interception of the afternoon, sealing the Pioneers’ fate.
Despite the three picks, Laurino completed 29-of-58 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore tailback David White (Bronx, N.Y.) put on a running display, carrying the ball 16 times for 105 yards. Hubbard and junior tight end Sean Binckes (Brooklyn, N.Y.) hauled in eight passes apiece. Hubbard amassed 92 yards receiving and a score, whereas Binckes collected 89 yards.
Defensively, sophomore defensive back Jared Chester (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) made a team-high 10 tackles. Red-shirt senior linebacker Anthony Brunetti (Bayville, N.Y.) recorded nine tackles and a pass break-up. Junior defensive back Jhaleel Oswald (Rosedale, N.Y.) added seven tackles, two pass break-ups and a forced fumble. Red-shirt junior linebacker Brandon Cheney (Hewlett, N.Y.) pitched in seven tackles as well.
Head Coach Bryan Collins and his LIU Post squad have wrapped up the 2014 campaign at 8-4 overall. They also won their first Northeast-10 Conference Championship since 2006.
Courtesy: LIU-Post Athletics