Second-half surge boosts Sea Gulls over Pride
SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University football team tallied 37 unanswered points in the second half as the Sea Gulls broke open a close game at halftime to post a 65-23 victory over Empire 8 foe Springfield College, before 2,344 fans on Family Weekend at Sea Gull Stadium. With the victory, SU has won its first five games of the season and is off to its best start since 2007.
Salisbury (5-0, 3-0 Empire 8) led by just five points, 28-23, over Springfield (3-2, 1-2 Empire 8) at halftime but blew the game open as the Sea Gulls scored on every second half possession.
The SU defensive unit complimented the firepower of the offense, limiting the Pride to just 127 second half yards.
Junior quarterback Dan Griffin threw for a career-high three touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Sea Gulls' attack.
SU scored on its opening drive of the contest when senior slot Tyler Curley barreled in from 9 yards out to cap a six-play, 61-yard drive.
Following a Springfield safety, SU upped its tally to 14-2 as Griffin connected with junior wideout Juma Richards on a 22-yard score, just over a minute into the second quarter.
The teams traded rushing touchdowns over the next seven minutes as Springfield used 10 consecutive rushes and capped its drive with a Josh Carter 2-yard touchdown run. Senior super back Randal Smedley then hit pay dirt on a 43-yard run. Smedley's score gave the Sea Gulls a 19-point lead, 28-9, with four minutes remaining in the half. The Pride tallied two touchdowns before the half ended, cutting the deficit to only five points at halftime.
Smedley was back to business to begin the second half, racing in from 16 yards to tally his second score of the game and move the Sea Gull lead to double digits.
Griffin followed with one of his own before sophomore kicker Andy Estrain booted a 24-yard field goal in the final moments of the third quarter. The outstanding second half charge continued into the fourth frame courtesy of two consecutive aerial touchdown hookups between Griffin and senior wide receiver Doug Ticse.
SU capped its scoring in the game when senior linebacker Alex Akinseye forced Springfield's Austin Bateman to fumble and then returned the ball 20 yards for the maroon and gold's first defensive touchdown of the season.
The Sea Gulls registered 564 yards on offense with 376 of those coming on the ground. Smedley led the rushing attack with a season-high 124 yards on 14 carries and two scores. Griffin used 15 carries to run for 117 yards while senior slot Jonathan Briscoe scored once and accumulated 61 yards on five touches.
Griffin was multi-dimensional in the game, throwing for 188 yards and the three touchdowns. He now has five multiple-touchdown games in his career.
The Salisbury defense was spearheaded by Akinseye, who tallied eight tackles to compliment his late-game heroics. Senior linebackers James Piersanti (10) and Jamey McClendon (eight) were among the leaders in tackles while sophomore defensive back Calvin Ford and senior defensive lineman Matt Leon each made six.
Springfield managed just five first downs in the second half and was led in the contest by Carter, who threw for two scores and ran for another. Bateman ran for 66 yards while Mike Davis racked up 49 yards on four carries. James Poggio punted seven times for 261 yards and James Kikel made a game-high 15 tackles.
The Sea Gulls look to continue their streak travelling to preseason Empire 8 Conference favorite No. 23 Alfred University on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 12 p.m. The Saxons are the reigning league champions as they secured their first-ever outright conference championship last season.