The 11th ranked Salisbury University football team hosted The College of New Jersey in New Jersey Athletic Conference play as a part of its Homecoming weekend and won 41-6 in front of over 2,000 at Sea Gull Stadium on Saturday.
It was a tremendous performance from both the Salisbury offense and defense that combined to prove too much for the Lions (0-4, 0-3 NJAC). The offense racked up 611 yards of total offense, with 410 yards coming from the ground attack. The homecoming showing is the highest yard total since the Gulls put up 744 yards against William Paterson University last season.
The Lions got on the board first following a Sea Gull fumble deep in their defensive half. The special teams would come up big, however, as Kenny Vercilien blocked the extra point.
Special teams would come through on the next play as well, as Aarron Moore returned the ensuing kick 80 yards to set up a 15-yard Brady Curley touchdown run on the first play of the drive. Alex Potocko then split the uprights to put the Gulls up, 7-6.
Following a defensive stand from the Gulls (4-0, 3-0 NJAC) that saw them hold the Lions to minus-3 yards, the offense picked up where it left off.
The next possession saw the Gulls go 68 yards in just 2:50 minutes for the touchdown.
Ryan Kolb took a handoff from quarterback Ryan Jones and followed his blockers through a big hole on the left side and jetted 23 yards for the score. Following another Potocko extra point, the Gulls had a 14-6 lead with 5:47 minutes left in the opening quarter.
At first quarter’s end, the Gulls held the Lions to just 36 yards of offense on 12 plays, while the Gulls mustered 150 yards on 18 plays.
Salisbury got back on the board early in the second with an emphatic four-play, 64-yard drive.
A physical 37-yard Jones run down the right side on the first play of the drive eventually led to another Curley touchdown.
Off a counter, Curley once again ran behind the left side of the line and scampered in for the 16-yard touchdown. Potocko did his job and gave the Gulls a 21-6 lead.
With less than two minutes in the half, the Gulls rushing attack got to work with Connor Canonico busting through the middle for a 63-yard rush to kick start the drive.
The Canonico rush would set up a 28-yard field goal for Potocko and end the scoring for the half with Salisbury up, 24-6.
Canonico ended the contest as the game’s leading rusher with 134 yards on just 12 attempts.
At the half, Salisbury had 310 yards of offense, 277 coming from the rushing attack.
The Gulls’ defense held the Lion offense to just 89 yards off 28 plays.
Late in the third, back up on their own 4-yard line, the Gulls got a historic pass as Jones connected with Curley for a 91-yard catch and run. The pass is the second longest in Salisbury history, with the longest coming in 2010 at Union (N.Y.) College when Dan Griffin found Alex Boseman for 92 yards.
The pass led to a Potocko field goal from 20 yards out to bring the score to 27-6.
Jones again struck with the deep ball on the next drive as he found a wide open Sean Rowland for a 67-yard touchdown. Jones stayed composed amidst pressure and absorbed a large hit to get the deep pass off. Rowland caught it in stride and did the rest with his legs. Following a Potocko kick, the Gulls went up 34-6 with 11:44 left in the fourth.
Jones would end the day going 4-for-6 in the air with 191 yards and one touchdown.
Brandon Lewis added the Gulls’ last insurance score, running in the option from nine yards out. A Potocko kick capped the scoring and the Gulls closed it out for a 41-6 victory.
The Sea Gull defense was impressive throughout, holding the Lions to 143 yards on 53 plays, forcing punts on their final 10 drives that did not end a half. Bernardo had a career day, ending the contest with 10 tackles.
The Sea Gulls return to action on Saturday, when they will travel to take on Rowan University in NJAC play at 2 p.m.