BUFFALO, NY—No. 7 Salisbury (3-1/1-0) limited host Buffalo State (2-3/0-2) to just 158 total yards of offense and got a big play out of its special teams to deliver a 20-7 victory in an Empire 8 contest this afternoon at Coyer Field.
Salisbury's defense allowed just 16 total rushing yards, and held the Bengals to minus-seven yards on the ground in the first half. The Sea Gulls totaled 319 yards of total offense, including 250 yards on 68 rushing attempts. Freshman quarterback John Dunbar (Pt. Pleasant Borough/Pt. Pleasant Borough) was 2 for 3 for 69 yards and a score. Joe Benedetti (Langhorne, PA/Conwell-Egan) led the rushing attack with 22 carries for 114 yards, while Andre Carter (Huntingtown, MD/Huntingtown) anchored the defense with a team-high eight tackles.
For Buffalo State, quarterback Casey Kacz (Amherst/Sweet Home) finished 13 of 30 for 142 yards with an interception, and added 30 yards on four carries. Caesarae Lewis (Newbern, AL/Sunshine) was the top receiver with three catches for 54 yards. Three Bengals defenders finished with double-digit tackles with Pasquale Vacchio (Glen Head/North Shore) posting 18, followed by Sean Littlejohn (Cohoes/Cohoes) and Tyler Krempa (Williamsville/Williamsville South) with 13 and 12 respectively.
After forcing a Bengals' punt on the game's opening possession, Salisbury set the tone with a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive to get on the scoreboard early. The Sea Gulls methodically pounded the ball down the field, with a longest play of 13 yards, and capped by a 4-yard quarterback keeper by Dan Griffin (Jarrettsville, MD/N. Harford).
Griffin left the game with an injury early in the second quarter, but Salisbury was able to extend its lead to 13-0 with a blocked punt by Joey Buckley (Chester, MD/Kent Island) who then scooped it up and ran it into the end zone from 3 yards out. It was the second blocked punt returned for a touchdown against Buffalo State in as many weeks.
Salisbury extended its lead to 20-0 with 5:53 remaining in the third quarter, when Dunbar caught the Bengals' defense cheating up in the box, and connected on a 59-yard deep touchdown strike to Michael Copenhaver (California, MD/Leonardtown).
Buffalo State delivered a big special teams play of its own early in the fourth quarter when Jeffrey Moore (Buffalo/St. Joe's) sprinted through the line and blocked a Salisbury 42-yard field goal attempt. Jordan Boser (Geneva, IL/Geneva), who had a sack on the previous play, recovered the ball at midfield and returned 40 yards to the Sea Gulls' 10-yard line. Kacz converted the opportunity into a score with a 10-yard scramble on the very next play, cutting the deficit to 20-7.
The Bengals had two more possessions, but could not break through, and an interception by Kevin Costello (West Chester, PA/Henderson) with 3:02 remaining allowed the Sea Gulls to run out the clock.
Buffalo State will play its third-consecutive home game next Saturday when it welcomes Utica for a 12:05 kickoff.