Buonocore and Wilken lead Seahawks to victory
CASTINE, Maine – A pair of New Jersey juniors, Dan Buonocore (Mahwah, N.J.) and Steven Wilken (Ringwood, N.J.) had career days for the Salve Regina football team to lead the Seahawks to a 42-8 rout of New England Football Conference opponent, Maine Maritime, Saturday afternoon. The win improves the Seahawks to 6-2 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the NEFC while MMA falls to 1-6 and 1-4 in the conference.
Wilken completed 21 of 31 passes for a career-best 347 yards, including three touchdown passes while Buonocore rushed for a game and career-best 136 yards on 23 rushes, including a touchdown run to open the game. Overall, the Seahawk offense went off for a program-best 604 yards, overtaking the previous mark set this year when Salve Regina racked up 594 yards against Western New England. Not to be lost in the career days was junior Matthew Traynor (Secaucus, N.J.) who had seven receptions for 146 yards, and two of Wilken's three touchdown passes.
"We came up to Maine and knew we had to stop the number one rushing attack in the country," remarked head coach Kevin Gilmartin following the game. "To hold them to just 189 yards on the ground, about 200 yards shy of their season average, is a pretty solid accomplishment. And then to back that up with over 600 yards of offense is really what drove us to victory."
The Salve Regina defense held a very explosive run offense of Maine Maritime to its second-lowest total yards rushing of the season and its lowest total number of rushing attempts in a game.
Salve Regina got out of the gate quickly, taking advantage of a Mariner fumble on the opening kick off to set off a five-play 30-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard TD run by Buonocore to give Salve Regina 7-0 lead just 1:38 into action.
Maine Maritime took its only lead of the game after its defense forced a four-and-out with 7:34 left in the first quarter. The Mariners put together an 8-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Michael Fahey to Joshua Doolan. The drive was kept alive by a roughing the punter penalty on Salve Regina and Billy Wetherbee's four-yard run on fourth-and-three. Wetherbee's two-point run gave the Mariners an 8-7 lead.
The late first quarter touchdown would be the only score Salve Regina's defense allowed for the game.
Salve Regina opened the second quarter with its second score as Wilken capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 16-yard run into the end zone to put the Seahawks up for good. After forcing a punt, the Seahawks scored on their next offensive possession to take a 20-8 lead into halftime. Wilken connected with Traynor on a 17-yard pass to end an eight-play, 48-yard drive with 7:45 to play in the opening half.
The Seahawks opened the third quarter, just as they did the first and second, with a touchdown drive, this time a six-yard pass from Wilken to sophomore Alex Hulme (Hopkinton, Mass.). Salve Regina scored 22 unanswered points in the second half to secure the conference victory.
Junior Phil Terio (Trumbull, Conn.) helped keep the Mariners off the board in the third quarter after he recovered an errant Mariner handoff on a third-and-goal for MMA at Salve Regina's one-yard line to keep Maine Maritime out of the end zone in its final red zone chance of the contest.
Salve Regina scored twice more in the fourth, a 22-yard hook up between Wilken and Traynor and a 1-yard run from freshman Sam Pascale (Chesire, Conn.).
Sophomore Danny Ives (Madison, Conn.) led the Seahawk defense with 11 tackles, tying a career-high. Hulme finished the day with 109 yards on nine catches, both career bests for the sophomore.
With his three touchdown passes, Wilken inched closer to the career record at Salve Regina. Wilken has 38 TD passes in his career and needs just two more to tie the program record. This season, the junior has 18, just one shy of his own program single-season record.
Salve Regina returns to the field when the Seahawks host NEFC opponent Coast Guard on Nov. 9 for the Seahawks' senior day. The game against CGA marks Salve Regina's Military Appreciation game as well. Kick off is set for 12 p.m.