Story and photo courtesy of Salisbury Athletics
FROSTBURG, Md. – The No. 15 Salisbury University football team secured the Empire 8 Athletic Conference championship outright with a 48-2 win over Frostburg State University in the 14th annual Regents Cup game at Bobcat Stadium on Saturday.
With the win, Salisbury (8-2, 6-1 Empire 8) claimed consecutive conference titles for the first time since winning back-to-back Atlantic Central Football Conference championships in 2004-05.
Senior quarterback Dan Griffin ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns to become SU's all-time leader in points with 270, and was 4-for-8 for 116 yards with one TD passing to lead Salisbury to its ninth straight win over Frostburg State (3-7, 1-6).
All four completions went to sophomore slot and SU McGlinchey Regents Cup MVP Isaiah Taylor, who also added a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown to go along with a 37-yard receiving TD. Senior slot Ross Flanigan posted a game-high 98 yards rushing and two touchdowns on nine carries as SU registered 415 yards, including 299 on the ground.
Salisbury opened the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown by Flanigan to put Salisbury up, 7-0, with 11:09 remaining in the first quarter. SU made three first downs on the drive, including one on a 28-yard pass from Griffin to Taylor.
The Bobcats responded with a 12-play, 51-yard drive to the Sea Gulls 27-yard line, but did not convert on fourth and 12. On the ensuing possession, another Taylor reception – this one 25 yards – moved SU to the Frostburg State 45.
Flanigan and Joe Benedetti (12 carries, 45 yards) followed with consecutive first downs rushing and, two plays later, Griffin found the end zone on a 15-yard rush for a 14-0 lead with 3:36 left in the quarter. The TD tied Griffin for the career school record in points with 264.
Salisbury added to the lead 33 seconds later when, two plays into an FSU drive, senior cornerback Paul Moore picked up a Michael Fourth fumble and brought it back 20 yards for his third score of the season and a 20-0 lead. The snap on the extra point was fumbled and recovered by Mikal Davis, who rumbled 98 yards the other way for a safety.
The Sea Gulls put the game away in the second half with 28 unanswered points.
Griffin hit Taylor on a post pattern with 10:48 remaining in the third quarter for a touchdown that made it 27-2, before Griffin bulled his way in from 2 yards to overtake Mike Coppa (1984-87) for the all-time points-scored mark to make it 34-2 with 5:58 remaining in the quarter.
After an FSU drive stalled, Zach Tuckmantel booted a 40-yard punt that Taylor took on his own 30-yard line and raced down the sideline for the Sea Gulls' first punt-return TD since current assistant coach Brandon Hudson did it against the Apprentice School on Oct. 3, 2009.
Flanigan had a 10-yard rushing touchdown at the 4:59 mark of the fourth quarter to account for the final margin.
Senior Chris Everett made a game-high-tying 12 tackles (seven solo) to pace the Salisbury defense. Sophomore Steven Gamble had five tackles and one of three forced fumbles on the day. Freshman David Handy chipped in with two sacks for 18 yards.
Frostburg State MVP Fourth led the Bobcats with 96 yards rushing on 21 carries while Ken Emmons was 10-of-31 for 136 yards.
Brendan Blanchette had 12 tackles for the FSU defense. Nick Harvey also tallied four stops, a sack and a forced fumble.