BUFFALO, N.Y. – Salisbury University junior defensive lineman Joey Buckley blocked a Joe Going punt on Buffalo State College's 3-yard line and returned it for the game-winning touchdown in the second quarter as the No. 11 Sea Gulls topped the Bengals, 20-7, in SU's Empire 8 Athletic Conference opener Saturday at Coyer Field.
Leading, 7-0, after a 4-yard rushing touchdown by senior quarterback Dan Griffin on the its first drive of the game, Salisbury (3-1, 1-0 Empire 8) added its second defensive or special teams score in as many games to go up, 13-0, after a missed extra point with 3:58 remaining before halftime.
Freshman backup quarterback John Dunbar, who came in for Griffin in the second quarter, hooked up with junior slot Michael Copenhaver on a 59-yard touchdown on a post pattern, finishing off a 72-yard dive in 1:13 for a 20-0 advantage with 5:53 left in the third.
Buffalo State (2-3, 0-2) got on the scoreboard after Jeffrey Moore blocked a 42-yard Jack Molloy field goal. Jordan Bosser recovered the ball on the SU 10-yard line and Bengals quarterback Casey Kacz scampered to the end zone on the next play to cut the lead to 20-7 with 11:16 to play.
Senior superback Joe Benedetti led Salisbury with 114 yards and 22 carries and Dunbar chipped in with 51 on 19 attempts and was 2-for-3 passing for 69 yards and a touchdown. Griffin ran nine times for 30 yards and the touchdown.
Salisbury held Buffalo State to just 158 yards of offense, including 16 yards rushing, marking the first time since a 69-0 win at Alfred University on Oct. 15, 2011 that SU limited the opposition to less than 200 yards.
Senior cornerback Andre Carter paced the Gulls' defense with eight tackles (five solo) and five passes broken up. Carter's cornerback classmate Paul Moore tallied three solo stops with a team-high-tying two for loss and one pass broken up. Sophomore defensive lineman Nick Ochoa picked up two of the other three tackles for loss.
Senior linebacker Kevin Costello picked off Kacz (13-for-30, 142 yards, one interception) on the Bengals' final drive to seal the victory with just over three minutes remaining.
Caesarae Lewis, John Beers and Dave Jacobs made three catches apiece with Lewis collecting a team-high 54 yards receiving. Kacz led the team with 30 yards rushing on four carries.
Salisbury travels to face undefeated and eighth-ranked St. John Fisher College next Saturday in Pittsford, N.Y. Kickoff at Growney Stadium is slated for noon.