SALISBURY, Md. – Senior superback Joe Benedetti rushed for 158 yards and one touchdown and quarterback classmate Dan Griffin ran for 72 and two scores while throwing for 91 yards and another touchdown as the No. 9 Salisbury University football team topped Hartwick College, 37-7, in front of a Homecoming crowd of 2,125 Saturday.
Salisbury (5-1, 3-0 Empire 8) ran 78 offensive plays, totaling 390 yards and held the ball for 41:18. The Sea Gulls' defense forced five turnovers, including four fumble recoveries and did not allow Hartwick (3-3, 0-3) a first down until early in the third quarter.
Griffin opened the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run that completed a 12-play, 82-yard drive that took 7:13 off the clock.
Salisbury added to the lead when sophomore Eric Hart kicked the Sea Gulls' first field goal of the season, a 21-yard attempt, with 7:39 left in the first half. Billy Nichols forced a fumble by Hartwick's Kurtis Ahart that was recovered by Joey Buckley on the Hawks 6-yard line. Salisbury couldn't punch it in, but converted the kick.
After a three-and-out gave the ball back to Salisbury with six minutes remaining in the half, Griffin found junior Michael Copenhaver for a 35-yard scoring strike to increase the SU advantage to 17-0 with 4:47 to play.
Senior corner back Paul Moore increased the lead when he jarred the ball loose from receiver Chris Olonski, picked it up and returned it 12 yards for his second defensive touchdown in as many weeks and a 24-0 halftime edge for Salisbury.
Hartwick's Joseph Rosiecki charged down the left sideline for 39 yards and a first down on the second play of the second half, but the Hawks' drive stalled on the Salisbury 33 when quarterback Mike Mathews fumbled and Michael Landry recovered.
Griffin added a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:21 left in the third, capping a 12-play, 55-yard drive before Rosiecki scored a 7-yard touchdown to break up the Salisbury shutout bid a minute into the fourth quarter.
Benedetti added a 4-yard touchdown of his own 3:36 later for the final margin.
Issa Diarra sealed the game with an interception of Corbett in the final moments.
Rosiecki ran 13 times for 73 yards and the touchdown while quarterback Keegan Corbett was 7-for-12 for 52 yards and an interception.
Nichols led the Salisbury defense with six tackles, 1.5 for loss and a forced fumble. Buckley tallied one sack, one tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. Andre Carter posted a one tackle and five pass breakups.
Reining Empire 8 Special Teams Player of the Week, sophomore Kyle Hamby, again had strong day punting. Hamby kicked five times for a 46.8-yard average and placed three inside the Hartwick 20. Hamby boomed one 68 yards, one yard shy of the program record he tied on Nov. 5, 2011 against St. John Fisher.
Salisbury hosts Alfred University next Saturday at Sea Gull Stadium at noon. The Saxons knocked off No. 17 Fisher, 26-13, Saturday, to improve to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the league.