/seasons/2012/contrib/201211035umvxr

No. 16 Salisbury earns Empire 8 automatic bid with 63-23 win over Utica

More news about: Salisbury

SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 16 Salisbury University football team rushed for a season-high 559 yards and nine touchdowns and claimed the Empire 8 Athletic Conference's automatic qualification to the NCAA tournament with a 63-23 victory over Utica College at Sea Gull Stadium on Saturday.

Senior quarterback Dan Griffin ran for a game- and career-high five touchdowns with 137 yards and classmate superback Joe Benedetti added two scores and a game-best 153 yards on 19 carries on Senior Day.

The nine rushing TDs are the most for Salisbury (7-2, 5-1 Empire 8) since it matched the number in a 70-45 win at Utica last season. SU totaled 606 yards overall on the day; it was the first time Salisbury had over 600 yards of offense since the win against the Pioneers on Oct. 1, 2011.

Up, 7-3, on a with 3:01 left in the first quarter, Salisbury turned it on.

Griffin hit senior slot Ross Flanigan on a 47-yard pass play to the UC 10-yard line, and two plays later, sophomore slot Isaiah Taylor ran it in for a 6-yard touchdown with 1:42 left in the quarter.

After a three and out from the Pioneers, Griffin took the first snap of the second quarter 56 yards down the sideline for a 21-3 lead. Dakota Peel fumbled the ensuing kickoff to linebacker James White on the Utica 24, setting up a Benedetti 13-yard touchdown that made it 28-3 with 12:56 to play in the second.

Utica quarterback Andrew Benkwitt connected with Jeremy Meier on a 58-yard pass and a 9-yard TD strike later in the drive to Joseph Gerbino to cut into the SU lead to 28-10 with 11:46 left in the half, but the Gulls responded with 10-play 75-yard drive, chewing up five minutes, that ended with a 4-yard Griffin score.

Utica (6-3, 4-2) marched to the Salisbury 16 on its next possession but senior safety Chris Everett intercepted Benkwitt in the end zone with 3:31 left to keep the Pioneers off the board.

Leading, 42-10, early in the third junior slot Lonnie Liggins, a transfer for the United States Military Academy, scored a 9-yard touchdown for his first as a Sea Gull to make it 49-10 with 11:03 left in the quarter.

Griffin added two more touchdowns of 2 and 1 yard, respectively sandwiched by a 22-yard rushing TD by UC's Jesse Baldassare and a 15-yard fumble recovery for a score by James Lenahan for the final margin.

The 30 points scored by Griffin in the game move him into second place all-time on SU's points-scored list with 258, six behind Mike Coppa (1984-87). Griffin also has 2,325 passing yards, good for sixth in school history, and his 2,550 rushing yards are eighth best.

Benedetti and Griffin ran for 8.1 yards per carry while Flanigan also posted 81 yards on seven attempts (10.9-yard average). Taylor and Liggins chipped in with 70 and 54 yards, respectively.

Benkwitt was 26-for-37 for 225 yards, a touchdown and interception to lead Utica. Meier posted nine catches and 112 yards. Baldassare had 68 yards and a TD on 17 carries.

Greg Stanton and Sal Carfaro had seven tackles apiece for Salisbury with Stanton picking off his team-leading fifth pass of the season in the fourth quarter. Senior Paul Moore led a group of five with six stops each; he also had a tackle for loss, a fumble recovery and three breakups.

Luke Manolescu paced five Pioneers with double-digit tackles with 15. Lenahan recovered two fumbles for Utica.

Salisbury travels to Frostburg State University next Saturday for the 14th annual Regents Cup beginning at 1 p.m.

Sep. 16: All times Eastern
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at Worcester State 42, Fitchburg State 26
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at Ursinus 35, Juniata 28
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Salve Regina 27, at Dean 0
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at Johns Hopkins 37, Moravian 7
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Massachusetts Maritime 34, at Maine Maritime 25
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Wesley 33, at TCNJ 0
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at RPI 31, Western New England 14
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Buffalo State 53, at Morrisville State 48
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at Rochester 14, Alfred State 7
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Stevenson 52, at FDU-Florham 14
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Union 31, at Gallaudet 21
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at Williams 28, Bowdoin 14
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Sewanee 29, at Austin 17
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at Middlebury 30, Wesleyan 27
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at Tufts 35, Hamilton 28
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at Olivet 37, Aurora 21
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at Trinity (Conn.) 35, Colby 0
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Montclair State 24, at Southern Virginia 0
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Rowan 41, at William Paterson 14
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Springfield 66, at Mount Ida 20
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UW-Platteville 38, at Hampden-Sydney 29
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DePauw 55, at Hiram 28
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LaGrange 39, at Methodist 30
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King's 44, at Lebanon Valley 39
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at Martin Luther 42, Iowa Wesleyan 20
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at MIT 31, Endicott 26
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at Alfred 24, Utica 17
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Maryville (Tenn.) 56, at Emory and Henry 46
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Averett 19, at Ferrum 7
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UW-Whitewater 40, at Washington U. 21
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Heidelberg 40, at Ohio Northern 21
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Carnegie Mellon 30, at Waynesburg 20
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Mount Union 69, at Marietta 3
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at Centre 52, Hendrix 42
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Albright 21, at Lycoming 17
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Bluffton 32, at Mount St. Joseph 31
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SUNY-Maritime 38, at Merchant Marine 31
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Concordia-Chicago 41, at Kalamazoo 29
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at Rose-Hulman 38, Hanover 28
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John Carroll 24, at Baldwin Wallace 21
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Trinity (Texas) 28, at Millsaps 26
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at Buena Vista 39, Central 38
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at Concordia-Moorhead 31, Bethel 7
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St. John's 56, at St. Olaf 7
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Gustavus Adolphus 42, at Augsburg 37
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Coe 35, at Nebraska Wesleyan 25
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Wartburg 40, at Simpson 31
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Elmhurst 23, at North Park 20
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at Huntingdon 41, N.C. Wesleyan 30
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at Hardin-Simmons 55, Louisiana College 10
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UW-River Falls 30, at Missouri Baptist 3
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St. Thomas 63, at Carleton 0
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Denison 62, at Allegheny 26
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Lewis and Clark 40, at Pomona-Pitzer 29
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at Wittenberg 34, Oberlin 0
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at Western Connecticut 37, Plymouth State 29
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Washington and Lee 24, at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 14
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Warner at Pacific Lutheran
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Cal Lutheran 28, at Willamette 13
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, at Linfield 3
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at Mass-Dartmouth 51, Westfield State 26
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Brockport 38, at St. John Fisher 7
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at WPI 38, Becker 0
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at Adrian 62, Rockford 7
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Frostburg State 33, at Christopher Newport 30
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St. Vincent 31, at Geneva 27
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East Texas Baptist 28, at Southwestern 10
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Pacific at Occidental
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Sep. 16: All times Eastern
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Wesley 33, at TCNJ 0
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at Johns Hopkins 37, Moravian 7
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at Alfred 24, Utica 17
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UW-Platteville 38, at Hampden-Sydney 29
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Mount Union 69, at Marietta 3
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John Carroll 24, at Baldwin Wallace 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 55, Louisiana College 10
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St. John's 56, at St. Olaf 7
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at Concordia-Moorhead 31, Bethel 7
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at Whitworth 53, La Verne 0
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St. Thomas 63, at Carleton 0
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at Wittenberg 34, Oberlin 0
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, at Linfield 3
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at George Fox 13, Redlands 10
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Brockport 38, at St. John Fisher 7
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Frostburg State 33, at Christopher Newport 30
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at Case Western Reserve 42, Grove City 10
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at Washington and Jefferson 37, Thomas More 29
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 37, Carthage 14
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at North Central (Ill.) 26, Illinois Wesleyan 13
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