Salisbury shuts out Saxons

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ALFRED, NY – Visiting Salisbury University, ranked 18th in the nation, visiting Alfred University Saturday afternoon and handed the 23rd-ranked Saxons a 69-0 defeat.

Salisbury (6-0, 4-0 Empire 8) dominated all phases of the game, forcing five AU turnovers and blocking two punts, turning both into touchdowns. The Sea Gulls built a 35-0 lead at the half, while holding AU to 43 yards offense in the first 30 minutes, and cruised after intermission. For the game, AU (4-2, 2-2 Empire 8) managed only 115 yards of offense, including 72 in the second half, when the Saxons had five three-and-out possessions.

Salisbury scored on its second drive of the first quarter, marching 64 yards in 11 plays, with Ross Flanigan finding the endzone on an eight-yard run with 6:23 left. The Sea Gulls scored again two possessions later after getting the ball at the Saxon 11-yard line following a bad snap on an AU punt attempt. Three plays later, quarterback Dan Griffin scored on a one-yard run and Salisbury led 14-0 five seconds into the second quarter.

Salisbury scored on its next possession following an AU fumble, driving 50 yards in four plays, then tallied Griffin TD runs on its final two possessions of the half to take a commanding 35-0 halftime lead. The first score came after the Sea Gulls took possession at the AU 2-yard line following a blocked punt; the second came after AU fumbled at its own 24-yard line.

The Sea Gulls scored on their first three possessions of the third quarter en route to taking a 55-0 lead after three periods. Griffin scored on a one-yard run to cap a four-play 42-yard drive four minutes into the third. After an AU fumble at the Salisbury 42-yard line, Griffin tossed a 15-yard TD pass to Tyler Curley midway through the quarter. Backup QB Joey Jones connected with James White on a 35-yard scoring pass with 4:02 left in the third.

Salisbury closed out the scoring with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth. The first came with 4:17 left in the game, when Michael Copenhaver scored on a 21-yard run to cap an eight-play, 51-yard drive after an AU fumble near midfield. Then, with 2:37 left, Cody Schechter blocked an AU punt near the Saxon goal line and recovered the ball in the endzone.

The Saxons defense managed to hold Salisbury's power rushing attack well under its season average. Salisbury, which came into the game averaging 362 yards rushing, ran 56 times for 252 yards, but found success through the air, completing six of 10 passes for 140 yards. AU junior tackle Mike Raplee had a game-high 10 tackles and senior linebacker Nick Clark had nine. Junior end Chris Steeves (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili) had four tackles (two for loss, one sack), and senior linebacker Wes Smith, junior strong safety Reggie Pressley and senior end Marcellus Jones each had seven stops.

AU, meanwhile, was held to 115 yards rushing, well below its 189 yard per game average. AU junior tailback Tyler DeRosa ran for 44 yards and sophomore tailback Austin Dwyer rushed for 34. Senior quarterback Tom Secky  completed six of 21 passes for 40 yards and was sacked three times while throwing one interception. Sophomore wideout Justin Oliver and junior tight end Adam Schutz each caught two passes.

Griffin rushed for 31 yards and four touchdowns and Jonathan Briscoe ran for a game-high 51 yards on nine carries. Griffin and Jones combined to complete six of 10 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns; wideout Doug Ticse caught a pair of passes for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Linebacker James McClendon had eight tackles (1.5 for loss; 1.5 sacks), a forced fumble and a fumble recovery to lead the Salisbury defense. Free safety Greg Stanton had one tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a recovery; Schecter had two tackles for loss; cornerback Curtis Ford had an interception; and end Matt Leon had 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a recovery.

AU now goes on a three-week road trip, beginning with an Empire 8 matchup at Frostburg (MD) State at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.