Utica 59, Castleton State 22

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CASTLETON, Vt. — Utica College produced 667 yards of total offense, including 414 through the air, to defeat host Castleton State College 59-22 in non-conference football action Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium.

Andrew Benkwitt (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) completed 26-of-40 pass attempts for 378 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Pioneer offense. Freshman Anthony Acevedo (New Hartford, N.Y.) proved to be Benkwith's favorite target hauling in 10 catches for 205 yards and two scores.

After both teams opened the game with three-and-out series, Benkwith orchestrated a six play, 64-yard drive to open the scoring. Jake Scott (Rochester, N.Y.) capped the drive with a two-yard rush, and produced 19 yards on the drive, but it was Acevedo who provided the big blow, a 45-yard reception down to the Castleton two-yard line.

Utica (2-0) put together another scoring drive on its next possession, this time rolling 80 yards on 10 plays with Acevedo catching a 26-yard strike from Benkwith. The sophomore quarterback was on fire, completing five-of-six attempts for 70 yards on the drive. T.J. Losowski's (Rome, N.Y.) extra-point attempt was once again good and the Pioneers led 14-0.

Castleton (0-2) got on the board with 5:14 left in the first half, as sophomore Shane Brozowski (Rensselaer, N.Y.) ran the Spartan no-huddle offense to perfection, leading Castleton 90 yards on 14 plays for the touchdown. Wide receiver Evan Cassidy (South Burlington, Vt.) was instrumental in the successful drive, rushing for 13 yards on the opening play, and catching five Brozowski offerings for 29 yards. Brozowski completed five passes for 71 yards, and rushed for 27 yards on the drive, setting up a Tyler Carpenter (Fort Edward, N.Y.) one-yard touchdown run. Luis Robitaille (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) tacked on the extra point and Castleton trailed 20-7.

The Pioneers answered with two more touchdowns before halftime, the first on a touchdown run by Scott, and the second on a Benkwitt-to-Jeremy Maier (Rome, N.Y.) hook-up with 16 seconds remaining before halftime to give Utica a 33-7 lead heading into the interval.

Castleton was able to take the opening drive of the second half down to the Pioneer 17-yard line, but the drive stalled and Robitaille missed a 34-yard field goal attempt. Utica senior linebacker Travis Ladd (Mexico, N.Y.) was huge on the drive, making three-straight red-zone tackles to keep the Spartans at bay.

After Utica was forced to punt, Castleton likewise could not muster any offense and the Pioneer special teams had its chance to put some points on the board. Barrington Wallace (Springfield Gardens, N.Y.) blasted through the Spartan line and blocked Carl Ojala's (Pittsfield, Vt.) punt at the four-yard line, scooped it up and ran to pay-dirt to push the score to 39-7 after Lozowski's point after try went wide left.

Former major-league pitcher Chad Bentz (Juneau, Alaska) punched in his first collegiate touchdown to cut the lead to 39-13, and a Brozowski two-point conversion cut the lead to 24, but in the end the Pioneer offense proved to tough to tame.

Back-up running back Zachary Jones (Blossvale, N.Y.) had a big day in a reserve roll, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts, including a 57-yarder late in the second half. Scott finished with 71 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and Chris Cobb (Syracuse, N.Y.) added 37 yards and a touchdown.

Meier followed Acevedo on the receiving end, hauling in five balls for 65 yards and a score.

Freshman Mick Wong (Hartford, Vt.) broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and led the Spartan ground game with 73 yards on six carries. Carpenter carried 14 times for 45 yards and a touchdown, while the 265-pound Bentz had 12 yards and a touchdown.

Cassidy had 10 catches for 66 yards, and Jacob Bielecki (Newbury, Vt.) added 54 yards on three catches.

Ladd was all over the place for the Utica defense, making 17 tackles, including eight solo stops. Kevin Hennion (Dumont, N.Y.) added 14 tackles and Genaro Scampone (Utica, N.Y.) chipped n 10.

Free safety Cody TanCreti (Hartland, Vt.) led the Spartans with 11 tackles, while cornerback Brandon Bergeron (Hartford, Vt.) had nine, including one for a loss and a pass deflection.

The Spartans have an open date next week, before opening their Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) schedule September 25 at Gallaudet.

Utica will play its home opener next Saturday when the Pioneers play host to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) at 1:00 p.m.

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