#16 Salisbury Powers Past Utica in E8 Showdown

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Salisbury, MD (11/3/2012) – The Utica College football team saw its four game winning streak come to a close on Saturday after a 63-23 loss to host and nationally-ranked No. 21/16 Salisbury University. The Sea Gulls (7-2, 5-1 Empire 8) triple option attacked lived up its billing, compiling 559 yards on 69 carries to keep the Pioneers at bay.  Utica fell into an early hole and could not muster the comeback as it dropped to 6-3 overall (ties school-record for wins) and 4-2 (school-record for conference wins) in the Empire 8.  UC will host St. John Fisher College back at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium on Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams.

"Salisbury proved today why they are one of the top teams in the country," said Head Coach Blaise Faggiano.  "The triple

Jesse Baldassare
Jesse Baldassare rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown
option is a difficult scheme to stop and they also played well on the defensive side of the ball. We are going to learn from this one, but at the same time we have to keep moving forward and begin preparing for Fisher next weekend. "

The Sea Gulls rushing attack featured five players that posted at least 50 yards on the ground including Joe Benedetti (153), quarterback Dan Griffin (137), Ross Flanigan (76), Isaiah Taylor (70) and Lonnie Liggins (54).  Salisbury's nine touchdowns were all rushing, five of which came from the legs of Griffin.  Benedetti chipped in with two scores, while Taylor and Liggins each added one. 

UC's Jeremy Meier continued his tremendous season, catching nine balls for 112 yards en route breaking the school's all-time receptions record. He now has 69 career catches.  Meier also became the first receiver in school-history to catch for over 1,000 yards in a single season.  Senior quarterback Andrew Benkwitt completed 26-of-37 passes for 225 yards and he also threw one touchdown to junior Joe Gerbino early in the second quarter. 

Andrew Benkwitt
Andrew Benkwitt completed 26 passes for 225 yards
Salisbury came out of the gates hot, scoring four rushing touchdowns in the first 17:04 of the contest to take a commanding 28-3 lead with 12:56 to go in the first half of play.  The Pioneers responded when Gerbino caught his second touchdown of the year to cut the deficit to 18 points, 28-10, just 1:10 later.  Salisbury kept the first half pressure going, as it registered two more touchdowns before the half (28 2nd quarter points) to take a 49-10 lead into the locker room at the half. 

UC was able to mount a small third quarter comeback after junior runningback Jesse Baldassare scampered for a 22 yard touchdown run and sophomore safety James Lenahan picked up a fumble and returned it 15 yards for a score, but UC still trailed 56-23 late in the third.  Baldassare finished the day with 68 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Dan Griffin punched in an insurance touchdown early in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring on the day with the Sea Gulls on tope by 40.

Sophomore quarterback Connor Butkiewicz completed 9-of-13 passes for 107 yards for UC in relief of Benkwitt in the second half. 

Senior safety Luke Manolescu led the Pioneer defense with 15 tackles.  He was one of five Pioneers to post ten or more tackles in the contest, while Lenahan picked up two fumble recoveries.  Dana Chritofferson totaled 14 tackles, while Genaro Scampone, Brandon Burnham and Jon Treen each added ten tackles.  It was a career-high effort for Burnham and Scampone moved into ninth place on the College's career tackles list. 

Senior tight end Matt Dunn caught five balls for 55 yards and moved into fifth place on the College's all-time receiving yards list.  Jamie Murphy caught seven passes for 44 yards, while freshman Alex DeRusso caught three balls for 42 yards. Freshman kicker Thomas Woodburn knocked down one field goal from 20 yards out for UC in the first quarter, moving him one field goal closer to second place on the College's single season field goals list.

Salisbury's defense was led by Greg Stanton, who posted seven tackles and added one interception, while Paul Moore and Andre Carter each registered three pass break ups. 

Salisbury closes out its regular season on the road Saturday at Empire 8 Conference foe Frostburg State when it takes on the Bobcats in the Regents Cup at 1 p.m.

                                                                                                      --- www.ucpioneers.com ---

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