Utica Heads to #16 Salisbury with Sights Set on First Place in E8

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Utica (6-2, 4-1 Empire 8) vs. #21/16 Salisbury (6-2, 4-1 Empire 8) - Empire 8 Conference Game
 Game Details  Saturday, Nov. 3| Utica, N.Y. | 12 p.m.
 Sea Gull Stadium | Directions
 Game Coverage  All Access: Audio (ESPN) | Live Video I Live Stats
 Radio: WTLB 99.1 FM/1310 AM - ESPN Radio
 Utica Links  News | Roster | Schedule
 Salisbury Links  News | Roster | Schedule

BROADCAST INFO: All Utica College games will be broadcast on the radio at WTLB 99.1 FM/1310 AM (ESPN Radio) by play-by-play man Dave Peroni and color analyst Fred Miller … Links for live stats, audio and video for Saturday's contest are available at www.ucpioneers.com … Live streaming audio can also be accessed on WTLB's website, www.espnur.com.

FIRST PLACE IN THE E8: Saturday's game may determine the Empire 8 Conference Champion … Here is a break down courtesy of D3football.com's Keith McMilllan: Salisbury (4-1, 6-2) could take control by beating Utica (4-1, 6-2) on Saturday … The Sea Gulls finish in the Regents Cup game against Frostburg State (1-4, 3-5 …. Utica would also take control with a win, but hosts third-place St. John Fisher (3-2, 6-2) in Week 11... If Alfred (3-2, 4-3) beats Frostburg State and Hartwick (0-5, 3-5) in the final two weeks, SJFC beats Buffalo State (3-3, 5-4) and Utica, all four teams would finish with two losses in E8 play... The Empire 8 website kindly lists its tiebreaker procedures, so in the event of a four-way deadlock, Utica and Salisbury are 2-1 among the four teams (with additional losses to Ithaca) and Alfred and St. John Fisher would be 1-2 …  Eliminate those two, and go back to head-to-head between Utica and Salisbury.

ALL TIME SERIES: Salisbury joined the Empire 8 as an affiliate member last season … The Pioneers and the Sea Gulls have squared off one time in program-history, last year, with Salisbury coming out on top 70-45 in the offensive shootout at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium … Last weekend, the Sea Gulls snapped a 12 game Empire 8 Conference winning streak after a last minute loss to Ithaca College, 21-14.

LAST WEEK: The Utica College football team notched arguably one of its biggest wins in program-history on Saturday as the Pioneers, winners of four in a row, topped visiting Alfred University 31-7 in Empire 8 Conference play … The Pioneers (6-2, 4-1 Empire 8) tied the school-record for wins in a single season … They jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first 19 minutes of the contest and never looked back, compiling 471 yards of total offense, while holding Alfred to just seven points and 237 yards ... The UC defense came to play once again, holding its opponents to seven points or less in each of the last three games ...  UC, which had never beaten Alfred in 11 previous meetings prior to the win, has outscored its opponents 115-14 over the course of their last three conference victories … Senior wide receiver Jeremy Meier opened the scoring on the afternoon with a 36 yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Andrew Benkwitt to give the Pioneers' an early 7-0 lead. 

LAST TIME THESE TWO MET: (9/17/2011) - The nationally-ranked No. 19/25 Salisbury University football team came away with a 70-45 victory over host Utica College last season in a contest that featured a combined 115 points and 994 yards of total offense at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium ...  The Pioneers led by as many as 14 points early in the second half, but the visitors mustered an incredible 49 points in the final 25 minutes of play to earn the Empire 8 Conference victory… Jeremy Meier added 97 yards on eight catches, including two touchdowns, in his first game back from injury, while running back Jake Larson (injured in 2012) recorded his first collegiate 100 yard rushing game and added two touchdowns for UC … All told, the two squads combined for 16 touchdowns, but the Sea Gulls' triple option attack wore down the Pioneers in the second half, as they scored seven of the game's final nine touchdowns to earn the victory … Salisbury posted 565 yards rushing and nine touchdowns on the ground …  Randall Smedley recorded a game-high 113 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while quarterback Dan Griffin registered 75 yards on 13 carries, to go along with three touchdowns. 

FIVE IN A ROW?: Utica has never won five games in a row in the program's 12 year history … The Pioneers are currently riding the high's of a four game winning streak …  The last time Utica won four straight games was back in 2010 when it opened the season with four victories against non-conference opponents

RECORD SETTING YEAR: A win last weekend helped the Pioneers' tie the school-record for wins in a single season which was set back in 2005 when they finished 6-4 … Saturday's win over Alfred also helped UC break the school-record for conference wins in a single season (four) … Utica also guaranteed its second winning season in program history.

BOWL ELIGIBLE?:  Saturday's win over Alfred guaranteed the Pioneers' six wins, making them ECAC bowl eligible for the first time since 2006 … UC has never participated in post season competition.

RECEIVING VOTES: UC received votes in the latest D3football.com and AFCA national polls for the first time in the program's 12 year history on Sunday night … The Pioneers (6-2, 4-1 Empire 8), who are riding the highs of a four game winning streak and their first-ever win over Alfred University on Saturday, received two votes in the D3football.com poll and one vote in the AFCA poll ...  The Pioneers are currently ranked 39th in the D3football.com poll and 43rd in the AFCA poll out of 240 Division III teams.

TALE OF THE TAPE: Utica is averaging 37.4 points per game this year compared to Salisbury's 29.9 ppg … The Pioneers have secured 199 first downs, the Sea Gulls have moved the sticks 142 times … Salisbury's triple option offense has outrushed UC by exactly 1,000 yards so far this year, 2,074 – 1,074 … On the flip side, the Pioneers feature more of a pass-heavy offense, throwing for 2,800 yards compared to Salisbury's 720 … Salisbury has attempted 425 runs compared to Utica's 275 attempts … Utica has attempted 319 passes compared to the Sea Gulls 74 … UC is 50% (55-of-110) on third down conversions this year compared to Salisbury's 36% (32-of-88) … Utica has scored 40 touchdowns, Salisbury has 34 … The Pioneers have 27 sacks, while the Sea Gulls have 16 … Salisbury allows just 14 points per game, while the Utica defense has allowed 20.9 points per game … UC's most productive quarter this year is the second quarter, having scored 106 total points … The Sea Gulls' strongest 15 minute stretch is in the fourth quarter, as they have totaled 75 points in the final quarter this year … Utica is on the verge of 300 total points this season.   

IN THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: As a team the Pioneers rank sixth in the country in passing offense with an average of 350 yards per game … UC's total offense per game (484.25) ranks 17th nationally … The Pioneers scoring offense of 37.38 points per game ranks 27th in the country … The Pioneers are averaging 3.13 sacks per game, which ranks 20th nationally … Benkwitt ranks 9th in Division III with an average of 340 yards of total offense per game … Meier ranks 8th in the nation in receiving yards per game with 123.38.  

COMING ON STRONG IN THE 4TH: UC started the year with a combined three points in the fourth quarter over the course of the first three games … In their last four contests they have accumulated 72 4th quarter points.

LEADING THE WAY IN THE E8: Utica leads the Empire 8 in five team categories: passing offense, total offense, scoring, passing efficiency (167.43), and turnover margin (1.29)…  Benkwitt leads the conference in passing efficiency and total offense … Meier leads the conference in receiving yards per game and scoring (9.75 ppg) … Woodburn leads the conference with seven field goals.  

RUN VS. PASS: One of Utica's obvious strengths is its excellent passing game … Although Salisbury does not go to the air often, they are the best rushing team in the conference, averaging 259.25 yards per contest on the ground with its triple option attack. 

MITCHELL NAMED E8 CO-DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore cornerback Shawn Mitchell was named the Empire 8 Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Monday … Mitchell recorded both of his interceptions in the second quarter on Saturday, sparking the Pioneers to a 31-7 victory over Alfred … With the Pioneers on top 7-0, Mitchell's first interception led to a Utica touchdown, giving the home team a 14-0 advantage … His second INT led to the Pioneers next score, a 36 yard field goal as the first half clock expired to put UC on top 17-7...  The two-sport standout (football, basketball) also recorded four tackles as the Pioneers topped Alfred for the first time in program-history …Mitchell currently ranks sixth on the team with 32 tackles in eight games played this year.  His two interceptions were his first and second of the year... He ranks second on the team with four pass break ups and he has also forced and recovered two fumbles for UC.

MEIER GARNERS OFFENSIVE POW HONORS: Senior wide receiver Jeremy Meier continued his record setting year by adding Empire 8 Conference Player of the Week accolades to his resume on Monday … Meier caught seven balls for a game-high 135 yards and two touchdowns as he helped the Pioneers secure their school-record fourth conference victory of the season on Saturday … He started the scoring with a first quarter touchdown to put UC on top 7-0 and he insured the victory with a fourth quarter touchdown grab, elevating the UC lead to 31-7.

10,000 YARDS FOR BENKWITT:  Andrew Benkwitt became the program's first 10,000 yard passer on Saturday … The senior stand out now has 10,093 passing yards over the course of the last four years. 

HERBERGER HEADED TOWARDS MILESTONE:  Senior defensive end Michael Herberger needs two sacks to tie the school-record for sacks in a single season set by Tracy Branch and James Brain back in 2010 … Herberger currently has 6.5 sacks. 

LENAHAN IS A BALL HAWK: Sophomore safety James Lenahan needs two interceptions to tie the school's single –season record of seven set by Jon Klosner back in 2002 … Lenehan currently has five picks this year, including two in the last three games. 

SCOUTING SALISBURY: The Salisbury University football team has dropped to No. 21 in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) top 25 and No. 16 in the D3football.com poll, the organizations announced … Salisbury (6-2, 4-1 Empire 8) fell for the first time ever in Empire 8 Athletic Conference play, 21-14, at Ithaca College on Saturday… Joe Benedetti leads the vaunted triple option attack with 803 yards rushing and eight touchdowns this year ... Quarterback Dan Griffin has 376 yards rushing and five touchdowns for the Sea Gulls … The Salisbury secondary should test Benkwitt, having hauled in nine interceptions so far this year … Steven Gamble leads the team with 52 tackles and three sacks through eight games. 

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Junior running back Jesse Baldassare needs 243 yards rushing to move into second place on the College's career list, he currently has 905 yards rushing in three seasons … Benkwitt holds the College's career records for pass attempts (1,318), completions (846), passing yards (10,093), passing TDs (85), completion % (64.2), and passing yards per game (265.6) … Meier is now the College's all-time leader with 2,252 career receiving yards and 28 career touchdown receptions … Matt Dunn needs 35 receiving yards to move into fifth on the College's all-time receiving yards list … Meier is the College's all-time scoring leader with 182 career points scored … Thomas Woodburn needs three field goals to move into third place on the College's career list … James Lenahan needs two interceptions to move into sole possession of third place on the College's career interception list … Senior captain Genaro Scampone needs eight tackles to move into ninth place on the College's career tackles list … Defensive end Michael Herberger needs 3.5 sacks for sole possession of third place on the College's all-time sack list.  

SINGLE SEASON RECORDS TO WATCH: Baldassare needs 84 yards to move into fourth place on the school's single season rushing yards list … He currently has 697 yards rushing this year … He also currently holds the single season record with an average of 99.6 rushing yards per game … No running back in school-history has ever averaged over 100 yards per game in a single season … Baldassare currently holds the school's single-season record for average all-purpose yards per game (147.3) … Benkwitt needs 28 completions to break his own single season completion record … On Saturday against Alfred Benkwitt broke his own single-season record for yards thrown which he originally set back in 2010 … Benkwitt has 2,646 yards passing this year … Meier needs 13 receiving yards to become the first single season 1,000 yard receiver in school-history … Meier also needs six catches to break the school's single season mark of 65 set back in 2009 by Cody Elliot …  Freshman kicker Thomas Woodburn needs seven extra points to move into second place on the College's single-season point after attempts made list … Woodburn needs two field goals made to move into second on the College's single-season list, surpassing Seth Mitchell, who knocked down eight field goals last year … Sophomore safety James Lenahan needs three interceptions to surpass Jon Klosner, who totaled seven picks in 2002 … Senior defensive end Michael Herberger needs three sacks to surpass Tracy Branch and James Brain, who each totaled 8.5 sacks in 2010.