Sea Gulls capture Regent’s Cup, NCAA playoffs-bound

FJ3_1370

On fourth and 15 with only 58 seconds remaining and the Salisbury University football team’s NCAA tournament hopes seemingly slipping away, senior wide receiver Isaiah Taylor hauled in a one-handed, 51-yard catch down the left side from junior quarterback Ryan Jones to keep the Sea Gulls’ season alive.

Three plays later, Jones and Taylor linked up again on a 10-yard pass, as Jones lofted a perfectly-placed, back-shoulder throw into the left side of the end zone, and Taylor made the catch with a Frostburg defensive back draped over his back, lifting the Sea Gulls to a 28-27 victory over Frostburg State University at Sea Gull Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, Salisbury captures the Regents Cup for the 12th-straight season and earns the New Jersey Athletic Conference co-championship in the Gulls’ first season in the NJAC. The Sea Gulls earned the conference’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament with the victory, as well.

The Sea Gulls overcame a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter for the victory, marking the largest comeback in program history since the 1984 season, when the Sea Gulls were down 33-0 to Randolph-Macon College, before winning 34-33. It also ties the largest second-half comeback from the same game, when the Gulls trailed Randolph-Macon 33-13 at halftime.

Frostburg scored with 2:25 left in the third quarter to go up 27-7, but Salisbury immediately responded on its next drive, beginning a stretch of three-straight scoring drives for the Sea Gulls.

Starting with 2:18 left in the third frame, Jones rushed for four yards to start the series, before a Bobcats’ penalty set the Sea Gulls up on their 44-yard line.

A 4-yard run by junior Connor Canonico, followed by an 8-yard run from senior Jerome Johnson, got the team to the Frostburg 46 to start the fourth quarter. Jones found Taylor for a 10-yard gain, before taking the ball himself on a 13-yard run, setting up a 23-yard touchdown pass to junior Aarron Moore down the right seam to begin the comeback.

The Salisbury defense clamped down to force a Frostburg three-and-out in its following drive, as a Bobcats’ punt gave the Gulls the ball at the 50-yard line.

Jones got the drive started with a 4-yard run, before finding Taylor on a 9-yard pass. Taylor caught five passes for 93 yards in the fourth quarter alone; he finished the game with 121 yards on seven catches.

Moore, Jones, and Johnson combined for three rushes and 29 yards, moving to the Bobcats’ 13, before Jones found senior Max Ehrsam in the back of the end zone on the right side to cut the Frostburg lead to only six, 27-21. Ehrsam turned around the Frostburg defensive back on the play and cut back inside past the defender for the catch.

The Bobcats got the ball back with 8:06 left in the game, looking to run as much clock as possible, but the Sea Gull defense again held strong. After only 14 yards on seven plays, the Gulls forced another punt to give the offense the ball back with over three minutes left in the game.

On the final drive, Frostburg twice forced the Sea Gulls into a fourth-and-long situation, but Salisbury was up to the challenge, going 2-for-2 on the drive and 4-for-5 in the game on fourth-down plays. On a fourth and 10, Jones found Taylor to keep the drive alive the first time on a 13-yard slant on the left side, setting the stage for the duo’s late-game heroics.

After Salisbury took the lead on the Taylor catch, Frostburg made one last attempt with a 57-yard field goal, but the kick came up short, securing the comeback for Salisbury.

As your community newspaper, we are committed to making Salisbury a better place. You can help support our mission by making a voluntary contribution to the newspaper.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment