Sea Gulls face tough test Saturday at Wesley

The No. 25 Salisbury University football team remained unbeaten in New Jersey Athletic Conference play with a 33-0 win against Rowan University on Saturday at Sea Gull Stadium.

The Sea Gulls  (7-1, 7-0 NJAC) played a complete football game, going for 417 yards of total offense – the second-highest total this season and second-straight game with at least 400 yards – while the defense notched its second-consecutive shutout and held the Profs (3-5, 2-5 NJAC) to just 159 yards of total offense. It marks only the second time in program history that Salisbury has recorded back-to-back shutouts, the previous time coming during the 1976 season.

After taking the opening kickoff, Salisbury went 75 yards for the game’s first score, with senior Brady Curley finding the end zone. It was Curley’s first appearance after missing the past two games due to injury and he made the most of his early chances. He got his first touch of the game on a 3-yard carry on the first play from scrimmage and then went 46 yards, breaking through the left side and never got touched, scoring his fourth touchdown of the year for a 6-0 lead.

With a steady wind at their back in the first quarter, the Profs had their longest drive of the day on their first possession, covering 55 yards before settling for a field goal try, but the 39-yard attempt missed wide.

The 6-0 score held into the second quarter, and Salisbury got two more touchdowns, with senior quarterback Brandon Lewis guiding the Gulls on a quick scoring drive following a 19-yard punt return from Blake Joppy. Lewis completed one pass on the drive, for 9 yards, and carried the ball twice for 20 yards, including a 9-yard scoring run to push the lead to 13-0.

The teams exchanged quick drives with Salisbury getting the final chance of the first half, going 62 yards over 64 seconds with Lewis hitting sophomore Damien King on a 33-yard touchdown strike with 26 seconds left in the half to take a 20-0 lead at the break.

The Salisbury defense made sure the lead would stand up, holding Rowan to just 70 yards after halftime. The Profs got into Sea Gull territory twice in the second half, advancing 45 yards on their first drive of the third quarter, but the Sea Gulls held off the drive to get a turnover on downs when Tom Montag pressured quarterback Quinn Collins on fourth-and-4, forcing his pass to fall incomplete.

After Salisbury added to its lead with a 2-yard scoring plunge from Dandre Dennis early in the fourth quarter, the Salisbury defense put the cap on its shutout. Rowan was able to move 36 yards to reach the Sea Gull 37-yard line, but when quarterback Brian Furlong looked for Nick Grosso up the right side of the field, senior safety Shane Gaines cut under the route to come up with his first interception of the year.

The Profs had two more possessions, but each went three-and-out, as the Salisbury defense played six possessions of just three plays in the game, forcing eight Rowan punts. Sophomore Patrick Bernardo led the defensive charge with 10 tackles, while Montag had nine to go with a forced fumble. Senior Dakarai Ellis broke up a pass and had seven tackles – four of which were solo stops.

Salisbury had one more score remaining, when freshman quarterback Jack Lanham came into the game and hit a streaking Joppy down the right sideline. Joppy needed to slip one defender then angled across the field to the left side for an 88-yard catch-and-run, the first passing touchdown of Lanham’s career.

The Sea Gulls rushed for 289 yards in the game, led by 125 from Lewis and 84 from Curley.

The Sea Gulls are back in action on Saturday for their final road game of the regular season, traveling north to Wesley College, taking on the No. 14 Wolverines beginning at noon. The Sea Gulls need a win to remain in the running for the NJAC title, while a Wesley victory would clinch the conference crown for the Wolverines.


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