Salisbury rallies past Lawrence Academy
Knights win Flaherty Bowl
EASTHAMPTON — Leading 14-0 at the half, Lawrence Academy appeared capable of overcoming a slew of major injuries to win the NEPSAC’s Tom Flaherty Super Bowl.
But thanks to 24 consecutive points in the second half, Salisbury (Conn.) managed to take down the Spartans (8-1) and earn the championship with a 24-21 win.
The Knights (9-0) began their comeback less than two minutes into the third quarter. Marc Mauro provided the spark, returning a partially blocked 45-yard Lawrence field-goal attempt goal line-to-goal line for a 100-yard score.
The special teams lift was especially crucial considering Salisbury had put together negative-1 yard of total offense to that point.
“That was huge,’’ Knights’ quarterback Bobby Wood said. “We practiced that all week. Coach is always preaching special teams, special teams . . . That set us off right there.’’
Salisbury forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Lawrence possession, taking over again at its 8-yard line. The Knights lost 5 yards on the first play, but on third and 15, Wood dropped and delivered a 97-yard scoring strike to Michael White.
That play squared the score at 14-14, where it would stay until Patrick Mazeika knocked home a 22-yard field goal with 7:06 to play, giving the Knights a 17-14 lead.
Mauro would extend the lead with a 62-yard scoring run with 3:14 to play.
Though Lawrence would get a 33-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Grant to Clay Horne, the ensuing onside kick proved a failure, and Salisbury ended the game in the victory formation.
The second-half collapse was a tough break for the injury-ravaged Spartans. The team was already without injured lineman Ryan Welch.
ISL co-MVP and Lawrence linebacker Daniel Giovacchini went down in the second quarter and did not return after suffering a broken collarbone.
Meanwhile, in the first quarter, Iowa-bound quarterback Michael Orloff went down with a left knee injury.
The quarterback returned a few plays later to lob a perfectly placed fade pass to Grant— a fellow future Hawkeye — for a 9-yard score.
Orloff remained in the game despite a noticeable limp, and the Spartans’ offensive attack relied far more on Orloff’s arm than his running abilities.
Before the injury, Orloff totaled 66 yards rushing while bowling over Salisbury defenders in impressive fashion.
Orloff attempted just two more runs in the game — a sneak attempt that went for no gain at the goal line and a 5-yard scramble in the third quarter.
That scramble would be the last play of Orloff’s Lawrence career, as the quarterback fell in a heap at the end of the gain and had to be helped off the field by team trainers.
Lawrence had a chance to extend the lead to 21 just before the half. Orloff barely got the snap off from the Salisbury 1 before the buzzer, but his pass to Grant was picked off by White.