ONEONTA, NY – Salisbury University, ranked 11th in the latest NFCA poll and 14th in the d3football.com poll, defeated Hartwick 61-14 on Saturday at Wright Stadium. The Sea Gulls improve to 7-0 overall and remain at the top of the Empire 8 standings at 5-0. The Hawks fall to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in conference play.
The Hawks kept the score close against the favored Gulls, trailing by just seven, 14-7, in the second quarter. Salisbury led by only a 20-7 margin at halftime, but exploded for 34 points in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
Hartwick senior wide receiver Jordan Wilkins (Portsmouth, NH/Hyde School) made eight catches for 134 yards in the game. Junior linebacker Bryan Schweitzer (Babylon, NY/Babylon HS) nearly doubled up every other defensive player on the field on the day with 15 tackles. No other player had more than eight hits. Schweitzer also recovered a fumble. Clyde Miller (Rochester, NY/Glenville State) made eight tackles for the Hawks and also recovered a fumble. RJ Roth (New Windsor, NY/Cornwall Central) added eight tackles and one sack for eight yards.
The Sea Gulls' triple-option offense generated 432 yards on the ground for the game. In total, they accumulated 561 yards to Hartwick's 259. The two teams also combined for 11 turnovers.
The Gulls jumped in front quickly as they scored on the third play from scrimmage following the opening kickoff. Joe Benedetti ran the ball in from 23 yards out and Andy Estrain's PAT was good for a 7-0 lead 1:17 into the game.
Salisbury's next two drives resulted in turnovers as Michael Stenger (Norwalk, CT/Brien McMahon) and Schweitzer recovered fumbles for the Hawks. The Sea Gulls' defense, however, kept Hartwick from generating much offensively as the Hawks were held without a first down in their first three possessions.
The Sea Gulls cushioned their lead late in the first quarter as Dan Griffin capped a four-play, 57-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown run. Estrain's extra point made the score 14-0.
The Hawks made it to their own 42 on their next possession but punted again. Salisbury muffed the return and Rob Warner (Tully, NY/Tully) recovered and Hartwick had the ball on the Salisbury 30. On the next play, though, quarterback Dan Brainard (Owego, NY/Owego) was picked off for one of his five interceptions to stop the scoring threat.
The Hawks got on the scoreboard on their next possession after a Salisbury punt. Brainard connected with Wilkins for a big 39-yard gain and then another for six yards on the next play. Senior running back Anthony Casimano (Gansevoort, NY/Schuylerville) then rushed for six yards and ran it in for 13 yards on the next play for the Hawks' first points. Alex Tesoriero (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia HS) added the PAT and the Salisbury lead was just 14-7.
The Gulls would tack on field goals on their next two possessions. Estrain hit from 21 yards and Eric Hart connected from 30 yards for a 20-7 margin at the half.
Thirty-four points in a 10-minute span in the third quarter would put the game away for the visitors. A seven-play, 73-yard drive would give Salisbury a 20-point lead and a pick-six from Andre Carter would give the Gulls another seven less than a minute later.
'Wick drove to the Salisbury 21 on their next possession but Greg Stanton intercepted Brainard and ran it back 60 yards before Dan Griffin found Doug Tische on the next play for a 16-yard touchdown and Salisbury led 41-7. The Gulls added another 14 points for a 54-7 lead after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Oneonta native Dalton Smith (Oneonta, NY/Oneonta HS) forced a fumble and Miller recovered on the Salisbury 46. After two plays, reserve quarterback Keegan Corbett (Bennington, VT/Mount Anthony) threw the ball into the end zone and wide receiver Frankie Molina (Middletown, NY/Middletown) wrestled it away from a defender for six points for the Hawks. After Tesoriero added the PA, the Hawks trailed 54-14, but that would be as close as they'd get.
David Salmon ran the ball in from two yards out and Estrain kicked the extra point for the game's final score line.
Griffin finished the game for Salisbury with 129 passing yards on six completions. He also ran for a game-high 73 yards.
Hartwick looks to snap a five-game winless streak next Saturday with another Empire 8 Conference game at Wright Stadium. The Hawks host Springfield at 1 p.m.