AIC football wins regular season, to play in NE-10 title game
SPRINGFIELD – The American International football team pulled away from Pace University with a 27-point third quarter in the Northeast-10 regular season finale victory at Abdow Field, 58-19.
With the win, AIC (8-2, 8-1 NE-10) clinched first place and home field advantage for the conference championship game Nov. 15 against LIU Post. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at Ronald J. Abdow Field.
The Setters entered halftime with momentum on their side, having nailed two field goals off the leg of Jan Strzelecki to pull within one score, 24-19, but the Jackets came out of the break firing.
On Senior Day for 17 AIC players, the veterans showed off their stuff. Senior running back Terrell Williams rushed for two scores in the third. First, a four-yard scamper to the end zone on the team's first drive of the second half to go up 31-19. He added his second of the day on the next drive, a one-yard rush to give his team an 18 point lead. Williams finished with a team-high 72 yards on 15 carries, an average of 4.8 yards-per-rush.
On the ensuing possession the Yellow Jackets ratcheted up the intensity on defense. Junior defensive back Darion Chappel picked off Setter quarterback Brian Beeker and returned it 96 yards for the score. After Springfield’s Jared Hulsey’s extra point, AIC led 44-19. Hulsey connected on 7-of-8 point after attempts and also converted a 24-yard field goal, his only try of the day.
To cap off an explosive third, senior wide receiver Stephan Davis hauled in his fourth touchdown of the day, a 27-yard scoring grab with 2:59 left in the quarter. Davis caught six balls, four for touchdowns, for 107 yards. The last Yellow Jacket to catch more than three touchdowns in a game was Trevor Perryman against Merrimack in 2010. Perryman had three touchdown grabs in the game.
Jacket junior defensive back Mike Ford picked off a Beeker pass in the fourth and returned it 70 yards to the end zone and capped off a 34-0 second half for AIC.
The first half is a much different tale. Pace scored its first points in five games on the opening drive, a 22-yard Strzelecki field goal made it 3-0 Setters with 9:17 to go in the opening quarter.
Following punts from both teams, senior quarterback Kevin Arduino hit Davis for his first of the day, an 11-yard scoring reception midway through the first.
AIC narrowly outscored Pace in the second, 17-16, with Pace drawing closer towards the end of the half. The Setters sacked Arduino in Pace territory on fourth-and-three to go, a turnover on downs and were able to get a kick off as time expired to pull within five, but that would be the final scoreboard adjustment for the Setters.
The American International defense was clutch in the red zone, forcing four field goals and intercepting one, allowing just one touchdown.