BY RICKY POLLITT
In its first season in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, the Salisbury football team has become a force to be reckoned with for top teams in the NJAC. After a 51-39 loss to the Christopher Newport Captains though, that threat seems to have finally ended.
The Sea Gulls (5-2, 5-1 NJAC) have had their backs against the wall the entire 2015 season, knowing they basically had to win out in order to enter the NCAA tournament.
After a back and forth battle with the Captains (2-6, 2-5 NJAC), Christopher Newport found its second win of the season and put Salisbury’s hope of a playoff appearance in dire jeopardy.
“When it comes to Salisbury against Christopher Newport, it’s a rivalry and they’re going to come and bring their A-game,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Sherman Wood said. “If we had just had that fire, it would have been a different outcome.”
With the season pretty much over for CNU, the Captains came into Sea Gull Stadium trying to get the upset.
After a four-yard touchdown run by junior slot back Aaron Moore to start the game, the Gulls were never able to regain the lead.
The Captains relied on junior wide receiver Taylor Loudan to put the team on his back and lead CNU on to victory. Loudan recorded 230 receiving yards and added a one-handed touchdown grab in the match.
“He made three unbelievable catches, and I told the guys he’s the guy you got to watch,” Wood said. “We needed to be a little more physical, and they did a great job mixing it up with run and pass.”
The defense for the Gulls turned out to be their downfall. All afternoon the unit was unable to stop Loudan or senior quarterback Tyler Quigley from marching down the field and putting up touchdowns.
CNU was able to put up 495 yards, and converted on 13 of 17 third down opportunities.
“We didn’t play team defense, but we’ve got to improve going in to next week,” junior linebacker Shane Marvel said. “We got our butts whooped, but we’ve got to improve in every aspect of the game.”
Despite the defense’s struggles, the offense was able to put up 39 points and keep the Sea Gulls in the game until the very end. Senior wide receiver Isaiah Taylor continued his impressive season by tallying 148 receiving yards and a touchdown.
“You’re never out of the fight,” Taylor said. “My job is to get these guys going for next week. This is the point where good teams bounce back.”
The loss means Salisbury is no longer in control of its playoff destiny for the first time this season. In order to make the tournament, the Gulls would have to win both its remaining games while having Wesley, the number one team in the conference, lose their last two games.
Salisbury travels to Dover next week to take on Wesley who remains undefeated. The match could either put the Gulls in their grave or spark the beginning of something special.
“You can hang your heads, but either way we’re going to Dover, so we got to be ready to play,” Wood said.