Football Drops ECAC Bowl Game to Salisbury

Saturday, November 23, 2013 - page 2

The Muhlenberg football team thrived on big plays to run off six straight wins at the end of the regular season, but in the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl game, it was Salisbury that used two long touchdown plays to pull out a 21-19 win.

Joe Hogh
In addition to catching a touchdown pass and converting a fake punt for the second week in a row, Hogh recovered this onside kick.
The ECAC title was the fourth in the last nine years for the Sea Gulls (7-4). The Mules (8-3) had their six-game winning streak snapped and suffered their first home loss of the season.

Salisbury, which scored a touchdown on a 57-yard pass play late in the third quarter, took a 21-13 lead with 8:03 left in the fourth on a 65-yard touchdown run.

Muhlenberg turned the ball over on downs on its next possession but forced a quick three-and-out and got the ball back at its own 13 with 3:02 left. The Mules advanced to their own 49 and attempted a long pass, but it was intercepted in the end zone with 47 seconds left, apparently sealing the game.

But the Sea Gulls fumbled on a quarterback keeper on the first play after the interception and sophomore Kyle Ruiz recovered for Muhlenberg at the 21. Two plays later, freshman Nick Palladino threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Mike Harris to make it 21-19 with 24 seconds to play.

Mike Harris
Harris caught five passes for 51 yards.
The two-point conversion try was broken up in the front corner of the end zone. Salisbury recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

Muhlenberg scored first in the game, driving 91 yards on 17 plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard run by senior Kevin Van Laar. Salisbury evened things up midway through the second quarter.

Trailing 14-7 after the 57-yard touchdown – one of just three completions for Salisbury in the game – the Mules were faced with a fourth-and-6 when sophomore Matt Aspinwall completed a 17-yard pass to senior Joe Hogh on a fake punt on the final play of the third quarter.

That set up Palladino’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Hogh with 11:22 left in the fourth, capping another long drive (18 plays, 81 yards). The PAT try was blocked, however, leaving Salisbury ahead by a point.

Palladino finished 22-of-40 for 185 yards, becoming the first Centennial Conference freshman to pass for 2,000 yards in a season. He finished the year with 2,011. Van Laar rushed for 78 yards on 21 carries in his last game, and junior Cody Geyer caught seven passes for 56 yards to finish the season with 60 receptions.

Ruiz recorded eight tackles, including three for loss, and junior Greg DeLade had two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
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