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Sea Gulls advance to NCAA quarterfinals for first time in 25 years with 3OT thriller over Kean

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SALISBURY, Md. – Sea Gull Stadium's first overtime football game in five years was a classic as No. 13 Salisbury University defeated No. 15 Kean University, 49-47, in an NCAA tournament second round contest before 1,192 on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, Salisbury punches its ticket into the NCAA quarterfinals, where the Sea Gulls will be making their first appearance since advancing to the 1986 national championship game.  

After trading points through the first two overtime periods, Salisbury (11-1) opened the third extra session with a 2-yard touchdown run by senior superback Randal Smedley. By rule, needing to go for two points, junior slot Ross Flanigan took the ball to the right pylon and leaped over a Kean defender to give SU an eight-point lead, 49-41. The SU defense looked as if it may hold Kean (10-2) on the ensuing possession but Cougar quarterback Tom D'Ambrisi hit Chris Suozzo for a 27-yard touchdown on fourth down to bring the game to within two points.

D'Ambrisi's pass on the two-point conversion sailed just over the head of T.J. Denehy to seal the victory and keep Salisbury's hopes for its first NCAA championship alive. The win gives SU a berth into the next round, where they will square off with the reigning Division III national champion, No. 1 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.  

Salisbury and Kean locked up in a thrilling affair with four lead changes, 46 first downs and 983 yards of offense. SU scored on its opening possession as the Sea Gulls used a 14-yard touchdown scamper by Smedley to take a 7-0 lead six minutes in. Kean knotted the game up at 7-7 on its next drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by D'Ambrisi.

The Sea Gulls made a push at breaking the game open when junior quarterback Dan Griffin scored on a 1-yard run to conclude the next drive and senior slot Tyler Curley bulled in from 4 yards out, for a 21-7 lead. The SU defense was fantastic over the next quarter, as well. The Sea Gulls had several important stops, including an interception by sophomore defensive back Andre Carter that ended a Cougar drive deep in Sea Gull territory. The interception was the first of the day by Carter, who also snagged another key pick midway through the third.

The second half opened with each team collecting passing touchdowns before Griffin raced in for a 27-yard touchdown at the 4:22 mark of the third. Griffin's score gave SU a two-touchdown advantage, 34-20.

The Cougars brought the game to within one score four minutes later when Darius Kinney posted the first of three touchdown runs on the day. The two defensive squads were solid over the final 15 minutes of regulation, but Kean broke through with a 2-yard touchdown run by Kinney to cap a well-orchestrated drive and send the game into overtime.

SU began the overtime with a missed field goal, which allowed Kean the opportunity to win with any kind of score. The Cougars gained minimal yardage on their first two attempts before centering the ball in the middle of the field to give Billy Daniels a straight shot at a 31-yard field goal. On the brink of elimination, the Sea Gulls stood tall as junior defensive back Brandon Lemon blocked the kick to give SU a chance at redemption.

It was all SU would need as following Smedley's second touchdown of the game on the next drive, the defense came through with its late-game heroics to thwart the Cougar rally by forcing the failed two-point conversion.

Salisbury ran for 382 yards in the victory and was led by the efforts of Smedley, who used 26 carries to run for a 206 yards and two touchdowns. Griffin was a dual threat as he posted four total touchdowns on the day. Flanigan and senior wide receiver Doug Ticse each caught touchdown passes from Griffin.

The SU defense was paced by junior defensive back Chris Everett, who posted a team-high 15 tackles (seven solo). Sophomore defensive back Greg Stanton had nine tackles and one interception while seven other Sea Gulls had six tackles. Freshman punter Kyle Hamby had four punts for 171 yards, two of which landed inside the Cougars' 20-yard line.

Kean was led offensively by D'Ambrisi, who was 15-of-26 through the air with three touchdowns and 271 yards. He also collected 57 yards on the ground with one score while Kinney finished with 61 yards and three touchdowns.

The Cougars were led on defense by Bekim Bujari, who posted a game-high 19 tackles (eight solo). Brad Higgins collected 11 tackles and forced one fumble while Brett Yajcaji had seven stops.

The Sea Gulls travel to UWW Saturday at 1 p.m. The Warhawks have won 42 consecutive games while advancing to the national championship each of the past six years.

Oct. 13: All times Eastern
Final
Bridgewater State 24, at Mass-Dartmouth 22
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at UW-Whitewater 21, UW-La Crosse 14
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
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Final
Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
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Final
at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
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Final
at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
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at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
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Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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Final
at Olivet 47, Albion 26
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Final
at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
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Union 27, at Rochester 0
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Amherst 40, at Colby 7
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at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
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at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final - OT
at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
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Final
at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
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Final
Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
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at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
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at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
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Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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DePauw 26, at Denison 17
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at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
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at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
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at Husson 49, Castleton 0
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Final
Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
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at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
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at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
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Final
Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
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Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
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at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
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Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
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Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
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at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
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Final - 2OT
Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
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Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Curry 40, at Becker 0
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TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
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at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
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Alma 27, at Aurora 19
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at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
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Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
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at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
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at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Final
Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
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St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Central 30, at Coe 19
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Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
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at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
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Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
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MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
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Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
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at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
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at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
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Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
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UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
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Final
at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
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Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
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Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
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at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
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Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
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Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
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Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
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Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
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Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
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at Simpson 38, Luther 17
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at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
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at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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