Mauro catapults comeback for Salisbury

EASTHAMPTON, Mass. -- The Salisbury School trailed Lawrence Academy 14-0 at halftime, and anyone watching the game at Sawyer Field in Easthampton can tell you things did not look good for the Knights. However, during the intermission Salisbury head coach Chris Phelps preached his faith in the Knights, and the team took hold of the pep talk.

“The halftime speech was just something we talk about all the time,” Phelps said after the game. “It was ‘With belief and hard work, anything can happen’.”

“Basically coach just said, ‘do what we’ve done all season…believe in each other and know that we can win’.” Salisbury quarterback Bobby Wood said.

In the second half, Salisbury rallied together -- starting with a 100-yard blocked field goal return by Marc Mauro early in the third quarter -- and mounted a captivating 24-21 comeback over Lawrence Academy to win the 2010 Tom Flaherty Bowl.

The Knights struggled mightily on offense in the first half but used their success on special teams and defense to spur the group to victory.

“I think they take it personal if they aren’t playing up to their potential,” Phelps said of the team’s motivation. “It was kind of one of those inner strength-type things. The guys didn’t want to let their brothers down and they came out here and worked hard.”

Even though the Salisbury offense gave the ball away on a fumble on its first possession of the third quarter, the defensive unit provided the team with a spark. On the next drive the team’s defense forced Lawrence to attempt a 45-yard field goal, which was consequently partially-blocked and then returned 100-yards by Mauro to put Salisbury on the scoreboard for the first time all game.

“I said you know what, ‘maybe a block, we’re down, what the hell? Something could happen,” Mauro candidly said after the win. “I stepped back there, it got blocked, and I took advantage of the opportunity.”

“That set us off right there. That ignited us,” said Wood about the return.

The touchdown gave Salisbury new life in the game. Following the score, the defensive unit came out and forced Lawrence to go three and out but also delivered a huge blow to the Spartans core.

Quarterback Mike Orloff finally succumb to physical injury on a 5-yard run in the third, after playing over a quarter of the game with a bad knee. In the first quarter, Orloff ran a keeper 41 yards down the right sideline, but was leveled on the end of the play by Mauro.

Orloff landed awkwardly then, and was examined by Lawrence trainers for a few minutes after but eventually returned to the action -- hobbling on one leg after every play. However, in the third quarter he ran up the middle and after he fell to the ground, it was evident that he would be unable to return.

“They all battled,” Lawrence coach Mike Taylor said about his team’s injuries. “We lost Orloff, we lost Dan Giovacchini in the first half, so it was a struggle -- it’s an uphill battle especially against a good team like [Salisbury].”

Giovacchini, the ISL player of the year and a presence at middle linebacker for the Spartans, went down in the first half after carrying the ball four times for 22 yards. In the first half, Orloff totaled 66 yards rushing on six carries, and was 6 of 10 passing with 135 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Wide receiver and fellow co-captain Marcus Grant filled in for Orloff at quarterback.

But, after Orloff left the game for good, the Crimson Knights struck with a 97-yard touchdown pass from Wood to wide receiver Michael White and tied the game at 14 points.

“It was one of those things that when I called it I thought ‘this could go completely the opposite way’. “ Phelps admitted about the call. “We maxed up the protection and protected our backside and took a shot at it.”

Salisbury went up by three points on a 22-yard field goal by Patrick Mazeika with 7 minutes, 19 seconds left in the fourth, and then later stopped Lawrence on a fourth down pass in Salisbury territory. The Knights put an exclamation on the comeback when they went up by 10 after a 62-yard Mauro touchdown late in the fourth.

LAW 7 7 0 7 --- 21

SAL 0 0 14 10 --- 24

First Quarter

LA - Grant 4 pass from Orloff (Dominik Kozlowski kick)

Second Quarter

LA - Tony Knight 14 pass from Orloff (Peter Taylor kick)

Third Quarter

SS - Mauro 100 blocked field goal-return touchdown (Jerry Silvery kick)

SS - White 97 pass from Wood (Silvey kick)

Fourth Quarter

SS - Mazeika 22 field goal

SS - Mauro 62 run (Mazeika kick)

LA - Clay Horne 33 pass from Grant (Kozlowski kick)