Patrick Rivers, Assistant Sports Editor
For the third time in as many years, the Utica College football team opened up its season against Misericordia University. The Pioneers dominated the Cougars from start to finish, in route to a 40-6 victory on Saturday.
UC has posted over 40 points in each of the last three games against Misericordia and combined to outscored them by more than 100 points altogether.
Senior quarterback Teddy Van Galen made his first career start last year against this same Misericordia program in which he completed 18-of-25 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown. He began this season with much of the same as he finished 22-of-32 for 249 yards and one touchdown.
Van Galen is off to another terrific start to the year and hopes to continue throughout the season. A big part of that success he says, is due to the strong play of the offensive line.
“The guys really meshed together and did a great job giving me time in the pocket and also creating holes for our running backs,” Van Galen said.
Head Coach Blaise Faggiano was also very pleased with the efforts of the offensive line.
“We have a very strong group, Robert Pontbriand, Jack Doyle, Austin Berninger, Dan Pamlanye, and Ryan Alphonse,” he said. “They’ve come to play.”
The spectacular play of the offensive line reflected on the entire offense. Having given up only 2 sacks for 6 yards on the day, Van Galen was able to be successful through the air. Meanwhile, UC’s rushing attack was just as lucrative as they piled up 199 yards on the ground with 3 touchdowns.
The Pioneers have great depth at running back starting with Seniors Ryan Burnett and Nicodemus Gambill. Additionally, Sophomore Malcolm Stowe, and two Freshmen Lindell Reed and Tahj Clark also saw carries out of the backfield on the day.
Senior Wide Receiver Jerred Beniquez added some yardage of his own to the UC rushing attack as he took a reverse handoff 60 yards to the end zone for a pioneer touchdown in the first quarter. Beniquez also added a 78-yard punt return on the day. The electrifying speedster had a school-record, 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last year against Misericordia also.
The Pioneers got much of the same effort and execution on the defensive side, holding the Cougars scoreless until the final quarter which the Cougars posted their one and only touchdown.
The defensive dominance began on the opening kickoff when a Misericordia mishap caused them to start their first possession on the one-yard line. The ensuing play resulted in a safety forced by Utica’s Nick Johnson.
Later in the first quarter, Junior cornerback Chancellor Harris forced a fumbled within the five-yard line. The ball traveled into the end zone and was recovered by Pioneer Senior captain Frank DeNome.
The score heading into the second quarter was 23-0 and Misericordia’s chances at victory were already looking slim. In the end, the Cougars were held to negative eight yards rushing for the entire game. UC also had 15 more first downs and 350 more total offensive yards than Misericordia.
The Pioneers have to be sure not to let this victory get to their heads, understanding that they will face tougher competition as the season goes on.
“We just have to be ready for Ohio-Northern now, they’re good,” said Ryan Burnett. “They beat us last year, so we have to be focused and ready to play.”
The Pioneers will take on the Polar Bears on Saturday at 12 pm. The game will be located at Charles A. Gaetano stadium as the Pioneers’ 2016 home opener. Come out and show support as UC hopes to have their best season in program history.