PITTSFORD, N.Y. – The No. 7 Salisbury University football team capitalized on three fourth-quarter turnovers to erase a three-point lead for ninth-ranked and previously undefeated St. John Fisher College, going on to a 28-17 victory over the host Cardinals at Growney Stadium Saturday.
With St. John Fisher up, 17-14, with 7:30 remaining in the game, Salisbury sophomore linebacker Steven Gamble stripped Cardinals backup quarterback Tyler Fenti of the ball and recovered it on the Fisher 6-yard line. Two plays later, junior slot Ross Flanigan punched it in from 5 yards for a 21-17 advantage.
Two possessions later, with Cardinals facing a third-and-10 on their 2-yard line, Fenti lofted a pass down the left sideline that senior cornerback Paul Moore grabbed and returned 32 yards for a touchdown for the final margin with 2:59 left. Junior safety Greg Stanton then picked off Fenti again on the Cardinals' last drive to seal the win.
Flanigan led the Salisbury (4-1, 2-0 Empire 8) rushing offense, which was held to just 150 yards on the day, with 55 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Dan Griffin was 6-for-7 with 124 yards and one passing touchdown. He added 33 yards on 12 rushing attempts.
St. John Fisher (4-1, 1-1), which outgained the Sea Gulls, 299-249, and controlled the ball for over 31 minutes, opened the scoring in the second quarter on a 32-yard Brendan Carey field goal with 12:36 left in the first half.
After a 51-yard Kyle Hamby punt to the 17. The Cardinals took the ball 54 yards in 11 plays, chewing up 5:22 on the clock before Carey missed a 41-yard kick to the right.
Salisbury wasted no time taking advantage of the miss. Griffin found sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Taylor on a 77-yard touchdown pass to give the Gulls their first lead of the day with 4:54 left before the break.
Fenti, who came in for starter Ryan Kramer after Gamble sack in the first quarter, took St. John Fisher down the field to reclaim the lead before the half. The Cardinals posted four first downs on the 12-play, 64-yard drive, and Cody Miller found the end zone on a 6-yard run for a 10-7 edge.
Salisbury took the opening kick of the second half and embarked on its longest touchdown drive of the day of 56 yards in seven plays. The key play came on the Fisher 26 when Griffin scampered 18 yards up the middle to the 8-yard line, setting up a Flanigan score. He fumbled on the 9, but regained the handle and charged in for the touchdown.
The Cardinals retook the lead at 17-14 when Fenti scored on a 2-yard rush with 5:18 left in the third quarter.
Taylor, Flanigan and senior Juma Richards made two catches apiece with Taylor going for a game-high 86 yards and the score.
Gamble posted a game-best 14 tackles (nine solo), 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks and the forced fumble and recovery. Senior linebacker Rodney Hill also had double-digit tackles with 11 total, including six solo stops.
Fenti finished 11-for-19 with 122 yards and two interceptions for the Cardinals. Miller ran 24 times for 106 and a touchdown and Matt Monacelli caught five passes for 43 yards. Defensively, Zach Dolan recorded 10 total tackles and one for loss.
Salisbury returns to Sea Gull Stadium next Saturday to host Hartwick College on Homecoming. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.