Sea Gulls pull out a three-OT victory

Salisbury next off to Div. III quarterfinals

November 27, 2011|From Sun Staff Reports

It took three overtimes, but host Salisbury defeated Kean, 49-47, in an NCAA tournament second-round contest before 1,192 on Saturday afternoon.

The Sea Gulls will be making their first appearance in the Division III quarterfinals since advancing to the 1986 national championship game.  

After trading points through the first two overtime periods, Salisbury (11-1) opened the third with a 2-yard touchdown run by Randal Smedley. By rule needing to go for two points, Ross Flanigan took the ball to the right pylon and leaped over a Kean defender for an eight-point lead, 49-41. The Cougars (10-2) responded on the ensuing possession when quarterback Tom D'Ambrisi hit Chris Suozzo with a 27-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to bring his team within two points.

D'Ambrisi's pass on the two-point conversion sailed just over the head of T.J. Denehy to seal the victory and keep Salisbury's hopes for its first NCAA championship alive.

The win gives Salisbury a berth into the next round, where it will play the reigning Division III national champion, No. 1 Wisconsin-Whitewater.  The Warhawks have won 42 consecutive games while advancing to the national championship game each of the past six years.

Saturday's game, the first overtime game at Sea Gull Stadium in five years, featured four lead changes, 46 first downs and 983 yards of offense. Salisbury scored on its opening possession as the Sea Gulls used a 14-yard touchdown run by Smedley to take a 7-0 lead six minutes in. Kean tied the game at 7-7 on its next drive with a 4-yard touchdown run by D'Ambrisi.

The Sea Gulls made a push at breaking the game open when quarterback Dan Griffin scored on a 1-yard run to conclude the next drive and Tyler Curley rushed in from 4 yards out for a 21-7 lead.

The second half opened with each team collecting passing touchdowns before Griffin raced in for a 27-yard touchdown at the 4:22 mark of the third. Griffin's score gave Salisbury a two-touchdown advantage, 34-20. The Cougars brought the game to within one score four minutes later when Darius Kinney posted the first of three touchdown runs on the day. Kean broke through with a 2-yard touchdown run by Kinney to send the game into overtime.

Salisbury began the overtime with a missed field-goal try, which gave Kean the opportunity to win with any kind of score. The Cougars gained minimal yardage on their first two attempts before centering the ball in the middle of the field to give Billy Daniels a straight shot at a 31-yard field goal. Sea Gulls defensive back Brandon Lemon blocked the kick to give Salisbury another chance.

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