Dark clouds haunted Sea Gull Stadium last Friday night as the Salisbury University football team awaited to face the Albright College Lions. While storms forced two long weather delays during the game, they were not enough to quell the flock.
Although bolts were found in the sky at times during the night, it was the thunder and lightning on the field that led Salisbury to a season-opening 48-14 victory over Albright. A tight 21-14 game entering the final quarter, the Sea Gulls rallied off 27 points off of their powerful rushing attack, which the Lions had no answer for.
“The coaches showed a lot of confidence in me. I took a year off and came back this year,” junior super back Mike-Ryan Mofor said after the win. “I just trusted my O-line and trusted my reads. That’s all I had to do.”
By the end of the night, Salisbury had accumulated 654 rushing yards, a school record. A large chunk of this came from one player in particular, Mofor. Behind a veteran offensive line, Mofor raced between the tackles for 237 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 rushes.
“When you have guys moving guys backwards, you don’t really have to do too much,” Mofor said. “You just need patience and to trust your eyes. Something was going to come. It built up and then it came.”
So far, Mofor has seen accolades come in for his opening performance, including being named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Offensive Player of the Week. Also, Tuesday morning, the Laurel, Md. native was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week.
Losing their top six leading rushers from last season, there were questions as to how Salisbury’s classic triple-option offense would play this season. Most of those questions were answered in the Albright game. Five Sea Gulls rushed for over 70 yards under the bright lights of Sea Gull Stadium.
Freshman slot back Jake Philip also notched a conference accolade this week as the NJAC Offensive Rookie of the Week with 74 yards, scoring touchdowns on both of his rushes. Senior back Kadarrius Campbell returned from his 2017 season-ending injury with 108 yards on eight rushes as well.
Because of the strong output in the ground game, Salisbury did not need much from their aerial attack as starting quarterback Jack Lanham only threw for eight passing yards. After losing three fumbles in the first quarter, the SU rushing offense locked in and broke free.
“From here, we can’t go backwards. We have to keep moving forward,” Mofor said. “My O-line does a great job. The coaches give good strategy. We have to keep going.”
Salisbury’s next opponent will be Kean University on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m. in Sea Gull Stadium. The Cougars ranked fourth overall in the NJAC rushing defense a season ago at 123.6 yards allowed per game.
Kean will play their first game of 2018 on Saturday, hosting Springfield College (Mass.). Salisbury will re-energize off of their win with a bye week now.
By CHRIS MACKOWIAK
Featured photo: The Salisbury University football players emerge from the locker room to play Albright. Aug. 31 (Emma Reider image).