by Corey Sznajder
The Salisbury University football team (10-1, 7-0 Conference) is heading to the second round of the Division III tournament for the first time since 1986.
The Sea Gulls defeated the Western New England Golden Bears (10-2, 7-0 Conference) 62-24 on Saturday afternoon.
“I was a little nervous coming into the game, but I knew the whole time that this team could get the job done,” said head coach Sherman Wood.
This was a game where everything seemed to go wrong for Western New England. With the score only 7-3 in the first quarter, the Golden Bears held SU to a three and out on their next drive.
Freshman kicker Kyle Hamby’s ensuing punt was blocked, however, traveling only seven yards in the air. A WNE player touched the ball, but couldn’t reel it in as freshman defensive back Cody Schecter made the final recovery for SU. The Sea Gulls would end up scoring on the drive with a one-yard touchdown run from junior quarterback Dan Griffin.
“It’s really demoralizing for the other team to have a long drive end in a fumble and then give up a 98-yard drive right after, so that was a key moment,” Griffin said.
The real dagger came toward the end of the first half with the Gulls leading 35-10. WNE had gotten the ball inside SU’s five yard line, only to have senior running back JJ Jachym fumble on the two yard line. The next play was a 77-yard run from Griffin, and it eventually led to him scoring his third touchdown of the game. “We have a great defensive line and they make the linebackers jobs easier.”
“It doesn’t matter who we play against,” Flanagan said. “We always stick to our plan each game and hope success comes with it.”
Western New England ended up fumbling the ball three times in the first half alone, one of which was recovered and returned for a touchdown by junior linebacker Matt McMurdo.
“Everyone who plays in this defense works together and knows their role,” McMurdo said.
Despite the 24-point victory, there were a few defense and special teams lapses that Coach Wood plans to have addressed when preparing for next week’s second round match-up against Kean University.
“We need to learn how to finish games properly and improve in some areas,” Wood said. “Kean is a team with great defense and special teams and can beat us if we let them.”
That game will take place Saturday Nov. 26 at noon at Sea Gull Stadium.
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