|Salisbury's Tony Groves snatches a lineout. JP Perez photo|
|Salisbury coach Doc Davis with captain Zach Hayes. JP Perez photo|
Salisbury beat Towson 18-10 Saturday in a fiercely competitive game, embroiled in controversy and disciplinary issues, to win the Potomac title and take the LAU’s top seed to the Mid-Atlantic playoffs.
The controversy lingered from Saturday and surrounded a Shark being red carded for dump tackling in the semifinal win over Mt. St. Mary’s.
“When the ref called the red card, my one wing said, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” recalled Salisbury coach Bill Creese. “Then the ref told my captain, ‘Somebody’s getting this red card, you tell me who,’ and he took the lesser of the two wings and said, ‘OK give it to him,’ and the ref kicked him out. But it was actually the other wing, so that wing, the wing that took the blame and my captain all got suspended for today’s game.”
Towson taped the match and showed the referee the play after the game was over, prompting the suspensions. That only added fuel to an already incinerating flame.
“My guys came out really fired up and really hitting just on the simple fact that Towson submitted the video, and all the other off the field stuff that was going on gave them even more fire,” said Creese.
“It’s a huge rivalry…Literally, the players hate each other. Not just on the field. I mean, if they ended up being in the same bar they would probably get into a fight. The coaches are good. We kind of like the rivalry, but with the players it gets heated. It’s a fun match to watch because it’s so physical, but sometimes people do get emotional on the pitch and things happen.”
Some of those things affected the outcome of Sunday’s final. Towson suffered two costly cards – a yellow for hitting a player while he was in the air and a red for punching. Salisbury converted both penalties into three points each and scored one of two tries while a man up. Salisbury also had a player binned for punching, but Towson failed to score on the power play.
In a game that was won by just eight points, the 13 directly related to aggressive penalties could have been the difference.
Towson suffered a crippling loss Saturday, losing its starting flyhalf and captain to injury against Georgetown. Towson coach Don Stone likened that loss to the Indianapolis Colts losing Peyton Manning.
Both teams advance to the Mid-Atlantic quarterfinals to be played in the spring, where a rematch could occur. Also advancing to the MARFU quarterfinals is Georgetown, 40-12 winners over Mt. St. Mary’s in Sunday’s third-place game, of which Hoya scrumhalf Jack Sheridan was named MVP.