ONEONTA, N.Y. – The No. 11 Salisbury University football team tallied 34 straight third-quarter points to break open a close game at halftime as the Sea Gulls picked up a 61-14 victory over Empire 8 Conference foe Hartwick College before 783 fans at Wright Stadium on Saturday afternoon. SU benefitted from six interceptions to post its fourth consecutive showing of at least 60 points. With the victory, SU ties its best start since the 2007 season.
Salisbury (7-0, 5-0 Empire 8) has been on a tear to begin the year, particularly over the past four contests, where the maroon and gold has limited its opponents to an average of just 12 points per game. SU dominated the ground game, outrushing its opponent for the 23rd consecutive contest as the Sea Gulls ran for 432 yards, a total of almost 400 yards more than Harwick's final tally.
Salisbury jumped on Hartwick (2-5, 0-4 Empire 8) right out of the gate when junior quarterback Dan Griffin hit junior slot Ross Flanigan for a 32-yard strike to set up junior slot Joe Benedetti's 23-yard touchdown run just one minute in. The contest remained scoreless for the next 10 minutes before Griffin hit pay dirt on a 19-yard run to up SU's advantage to two touchdowns.
Following a score by Hartwick's Anthony Casiman to open the second frame, the Sea Gulls used consecutive field goals by sophomore kicker Andy Estrain and freshman kicker Eric Hart to increase their lead to 20-7. Estrain connected on a 21-yard kick seven minutes into the second while Hart's boot was on SU's final drive of the first half.
It was all Salisbury in the second half as the Sea Gulls posted five consecutive third quarter touchdowns. The frame was an offensive show for Salisbury, particularly through the air, where Griffin connected on aerial touchdown hookups, to senior slot Jonathan Briscoe and senior wideout Doug Ticse, of 26 and 16 yards, respectively.
The SU defensive unit registered its second touchdown in three games when sophomore defensive back Andre Carter snagged his second interception of the day and returned it 35 yards for the score. Senior slot Tyler Curley concluded the Sea Gulls' domination in the third with two rushing scores to move SU's lead to 54-7 heading into the final frame.
The SU defense held Hartwick scoreless for almost 30 minutes before Frankie Molina took in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Keegan Corbett three minutes into the fourth quarter. The score was as close as Hartwick would get as freshman slot David Salmon scored on a 2-yard run at the 7:04 mark of the fourth to claim his first career rushing touchdown.
The SU defensive unit was led by senior linebacker Jamey McClendon, who registered a team-high eight tackles. Freshman defensive back Cody Schecter notched five tackles while junior linebacker Rodney Hill and junior defensive back Chris Everett each had four. Carter's two interceptions paced the squad but Salisbury also had picks from sophomore defensive back Greg Stanton, junior defensive back Jerry Okocha, Everett and Ford. Junior linebacker Matt McMurdo made three tackles and notched one fumble recovery.
The offense saw 12 different players collect rushing attempts in the victory with Griffin and Benedetti leading the way with 65 yards and one score apiece. Griffin was 6-for-8 through the air for 129 yards and two touchdowns while junior wideout Juma Richards caught three passes for 55 yards.
Hartwick was paced by Bryan Schweitze, who had a game-high 15 tackles. Clyde Miller and R.J. Roth each had eight tackles while six others collected four. Also leading the way for the Hawks was Jordan Wilkins (eight receptions for 134 yards) and Brendan Cahill (seven punts for 247 yards).
The Sea Gulls look to continue their winning ways when they travel to Wesley College on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 1 p.m.