Salisbury football claims NJAC title with win over CNU
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
The Salisbury University football team capped off its abbreviated season defeating the Christopher Newport Captains 30-5 on Sunday. With the victory, the Sea Gulls claimed the New Jersey Athletic Conference South division title.
This marks the second consecutive season and third time overall Salisbury has outright won or shared the NJAC title since joining the conference in 2015.
Salisbury head coach Sherman Wood mentioned that he is glad the team could get the victory for his three departing seniors, Joseph Manso, Keegan O’Donnell and Oladayo Adeleke, who all played their final game at Sea Gull Stadium on Sunday night.
“A win is a win, we’ll take it … two games, one games, we’ll take it,” Wood said. “We did what we had to do and came out with a victory, I’m very happy for especially the seniors.”
Salisbury came into the matchup with CNU following a 32-30 over Wesley College in the final Route 13 Rivalry game the previous week.
Junior linebacker Josh Adewumi felt their victory over the Wolverines last week and facing the Captains in a preseason scrimmage gave them the edge coming into Sunday’s game.
“We had a lot of confidence when we came into [today’s] game, we prepared for it,” Adewumi said. “We scrimmaged them, so we knew what they were going to do … we came in confident and ready for the game.”
Junior running back Joey Bildstein said the great chemistry the Sea Gulls had gave them the confidence to go out there and win.
“You got to treat every game the same,” Bildstein said. “We have confidence in ourselves every weekend, we know we have a great squad here and we trust each other, we got a lot of good chemistry, so we know if we come in and do our jobs, do what coaches tell us to do, we’ll have a good opportunity every week.”
Salisbury received the opening kickoff, and thanks to their rushing attack, were able to score the first points of the night with a five-yard scamper from senior slot back Shamar Gray.
Junior quarterback Jack Lanham’s first completion of the game was a deep ball to junior wide receiver Zach Gadwell. Wood praised his six-foot-three wideout for hauling in the 37-yard pass from Lanham.
“I talked to Zach all this past year about his size and the potential that he has to make plays and, sure enough, he made one of the biggest plays of the night,” Wood said.
CNU got on the board early in the second quarter after junior linebacker Jack Parson sacked Lanham in the endzone for a safety. Both the Captains and Salisbury would add field goals in the second quarter, giving the Sea Gulls a 10-5 halftime lead over the Captains.
In the second half, Lanham, Bildstein and senior slot back Chad Gleason all scored on the ground to give Salisbury a 30-5 lead. The Salisbury defense held CNU scoreless throughout the second half.
Salisbury now has won five straight games against CNU and, like last years 51-0 shutout of the Captains, the Sea Gull’s defense prevented CNU from reaching the endzone.
Lanham finished the game with 61 passing yards, 14 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Gadwell was Lanham’s leading receiver with 37 receiving yards on the night.
Bildstein finished with a game-high 81 rushing yards, one of three Sea Gulls to eclipse 50 yards on the ground.
Bildstein credited the Sea Gulls success on the ground to the offensive line and versatile backfield with multiple weapons that kept defense on their toes.
“Jack [Lanham] is so good, he’s such a threat, you have to keep an eye on him, Chad [Gleason] and Shamar [Gray] have made noise in the NJAC before, there’s so much you have to take into account that there is always going to be someone who finds a way,” Bildstein said.
Wood also had praise for his offensive line, who occasionally dealt with CNU stuffing nine defenders in the box. Overall, he felt that his players kept their composure and were able to execute the game plan.
Adewumi was tied with four other defenders for a team-high six tackles.
As this shortened 2021 spring season comes to a close, the Sea Gulls are now focused on retooling over the summer to come back even stronger in the fall season and hunt another NJAC Title and postseason berth.
“Just keep your foot on the gas, don’t let up; it feels good right now to win a couple games, but this isn’t what we’re working for,” Bildstein said. “We want to win a lot more games in the fall, just keeping that mentality that we haven’t done anything yet.”
By BRANDON STARK
Photo by Photography editor Brad Boardman.