/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.

Oct. 20: All times Eastern
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at Stevenson 33, Wilkes 21
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at RPI 31, Hobart 24
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at MIT 13, Coast Guard 0
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Norwich 15, at Maine Maritime 7
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at Moravian 31, Juniata 14
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at Dean 53, Gallaudet 21
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Endicott 45, at Becker 13
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Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
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SUNY-Maritime 68, at Castleton 41
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Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
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N.C. Wesleyan 29, at Brevard 21
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Union 29, at St. Lawrence 7
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at Ithaca 28, Rochester 3
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at Colby 23, Hamilton 21
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at Middlebury 35, Bates 34
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Trinity (Conn.) 48, at Bowdoin 6
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Springfield 23, at Catholic 11
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Amherst 33, at Wesleyan 3
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at Husson 54, Anna Maria 14
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TCNJ 13, at Kean 8
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Carnegie Mellon 41, at Thiel 7
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Salve Regina 30, at Curry 21
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King's 37, at Albright 26
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Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
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Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
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Cortland 56, at Hartwick 3
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at Denison 27, Ohio Wesleyan 10
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Waynesburg 12, at St. Vincent 10
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Salisbury 33, at Southern Virginia 0
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at Methodist 42, Greensboro 6
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Christopher Newport 39, at William Paterson 10
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Ohio Northern 49, at Capital 46
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Baldwin Wallace 35, at Wilmington 33
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at Lycoming 52, Alvernia 0
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at Franklin 64, Earlham 20
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Hanover 48, at Manchester 14
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Mount St. Joseph 20, at Defiance 0
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at Utica 30, Alfred 22
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Maryville (Tenn.) 37, at LaGrange 17
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Framingham State 27, at Westfield State 2
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Morrisville State 35, at St. John Fisher 7
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at Muskingum 21, Otterbein 14
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at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
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at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
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at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
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at Wooster 28, Hiram 21
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Allegheny 54, at Kenyon 10
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at Nebraska Wesleyan 23, Luther 15
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Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
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at Eureka 50, Benedictine 20
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
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at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
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Chicago 63, at Beloit 0
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at Concordia (Wis.) 45, Concordia-Chicago 34
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Aurora 25, at Rockford 7
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Lakeland 38, at Wisconsin Lutheran 12
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at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
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at Gustavus Adolphus 42, Augsburg 0
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Dubuque 38, at Buena Vista 7
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UW-Stout 31, at UW-Stevens Point 27
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at UW-Platteville 16
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at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
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at Mass-Dartmouth 41, Worcester State 27
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at Wartburg 47, Central 20
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at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
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at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
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at Birmingham-Southern 47, Austin 35
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Centre 41, at Rhodes 14
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at Carroll 23, North Park 0
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at Kalamazoo 17, Alma 10
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at Pacific Lutheran 33, Willamette 20
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at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
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at Averett 45, Huntingdon 17
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Washington and Lee 38, at Ferrum 35
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at Pacific 54, Lewis and Clark 22
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Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
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Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 27, at Occidental 7
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Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
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at Hope 35, Olivet 30
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at Western Connecticut 50, Bridgewater State 48
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Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
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at Sul Ross State 28, Howard Payne 27
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East Texas Baptist 48, at Louisiana College 27
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Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
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St. Norbert 46, at Lawrence 0
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at Pomona-Pitzer 42, Whittier 17
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Chapman 33, at Cal Lutheran 29
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Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
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at RPI 31, Hobart 24
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Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
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at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
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at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
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Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
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Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
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at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
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at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
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at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
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at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
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at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
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Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
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at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
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at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
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North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
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at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
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at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
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at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
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at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
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Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
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Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
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Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
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