UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica College football team lost its Empire 8 Conference opener 34-0 to visiting Salisbury University Saturday afternoon on the turf at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium. The Pioneers are now 2-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play, while the visiting Sea Gulls, who are the two-time defending conference champs, evened their record at 2-2 on the year and opened E8 play with a victory.
UC, which has not been shut out since 2007, gave up 21 points in the second quarter and the Pioneers surrendered three interceptions while going 0-for-2 in the red zone as they lost their second straight contest to a nationally-renowned program. Salisbury, which is receiving votes in the d3football.com national poll, rushed for 364 yards on the ground in the victory.
UC junior quarterback Connor Butkiewicz (Southington, CT/Southington) completed 30-of-46 passes for 178 yards on the afternoon, while senior Jamie Murphy (Canadaigua, NY/Marcus Whitman) caught a game-high nine balls for 46 yards. Junior Anthony Acevedo (New Hartford, NY/New Hartford) made seven catches for 53 yards for the Pioneers, while senior running back Jake Larson (Bemus Point, NY/Maple Grove) carried the ball 14 times for 48 yards.
Salisbury running back Jerome Johnson had a stellar day, totaling 11 carries for 146 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Joey Jones carried the ball 14 times for 59 yards and a score of his own. Jones also completed three passes, two of which resulted in touchdowns, for a total of 63 yards passing. Johnson, who also returns kicks, finished the day with 191 all-purpose yards.
Utica leading tackler Joe Giametta (Seaford, NY/MacArthur) registered seven solo stops for the Pioneers, while sophomore defensive end Nick Woodman (Utica, NY/Proctor) added seven tackles of his own. Ryan Hansen (Woodcliff Lake, NJ/Pascack Hills), Jeff Mitchell (Onondaga, NY/Onondaga) and Brandon Burnham (Fulton, NY/Mexico) each record six tackles on the defensive end for UC.
Salisbury's Calvin Ford led the Sea Gulls with seven solo stops and Steven Gamble also added seven tackles and one interception which he returned for 50 yards.
Salisbury led the game off with a 48 yard kickoff return from Jerome Johnson and he also capped the first drive of the game with a 19 yard touchdown run to put the visitors on top 6-0. That would be the lone score of the first quarter.
Less than five minutes into the second quarter Salisbury capped a 10-play 53 yard drive with a 30 yard touchdown pass from Jones to Michael Copenhaver to put the Sea Gulls up by the score of 13-0.
It was two scores in the final 5:09 of the first half that really broke the back of the Pioneers. Jones capped a seven-play, 67 yard drive with a four yard plunge to give Salisbury a 20-0 lead with 5:09 to go in the half. Towards the end of the first half UC had a field goal attempt blocked and James Hall returned his own block 41 yards to set up another Salisbury score before the half. Jones connected with Isaiah Taylor for a 25 yard touchdown pass on the next snap to give the visitors a 27-0 lead headed into the locker room at the half.
The Sea Gulls added an insurance touchdown late in the third quarter, by way of an 11 yard touchdown run from Brandon Norwood, to essentially seal the 34-0 victory.
UC returns to the gridiron on the road next Saturday when the Pioneers travel to Empire 8 Conference opponent Frostburg State (Maryland) to take on the Bobcats at 1 p.m.