BY DIAMOND HOLTON
The Sea Gulls and the Bobcats face off in the 17th annual Regents Cup on Saturday at 1 p.m., where a Salisbury victory will crown the Sea Gulls New Jersey Athletic Conference champions and give them an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Under the helm of head coach Sherman Wood, Salisbury has a 12-4 advantage in the series against Frostburg St., and the Sea Gulls haven’t lost a game against them since 2003.
After starting the season ranked No. 21 by D3football.com Top 25 Poll, Salisbury’s overall record is 6-2 with the only conference loss coming against Christopher Newport University. The Sea Gulls most notable win was on Nov. 7 when they handed Wesley College its first loss of the season in a 38-35 victory.
Sophomore Alex Potocko kicked the game-winning 36-yard field goal for the win. It marked the first time in 11 years that the Gulls defeated the Wolverines.
The Sea Gulls offense has been a unit to keep an eye on as the season has progressed. Junior quarterback Ryan Jones has 16 total touchdowns, along with 926 passing yards and three interceptions on the year.
His most notable game was in September when he recorded 151 rushing yards and 162 passing yards alone when his team faced Montclair State.
Slot backs, junior Aarron Moore and senior Jerome Johnson are equal threats giving the Sea Gulls a good run game along with receiving yardage. Johnson on the ground has 774 yards with 10 touchdowns and one touchdown through the air.
Moore has been able to display his abilities on the ground, receiving and in the kick return game. He holds a total of 737 all-purpose yards with 329 coming from the running attack.
Since day one, Jones has relied on his No. 1 target, senior wide receiver Isaiah Taylor, whose most yards this season in a game was 148 yards off five catches when taking on CNU. He has accumulated six touchdowns off 580 yards receiving alone, while his remaining yards came from rushing and kick returns giving him 818 yards before ending the season.
Salisbury’s defense has also helped balance the offensive attack this season. Junior defensive back Christian Wilson’s hawk-eye vision gave him 56 tackles for the season along with three interceptions. Two of those interceptions came in one game to start off the season.
The Bobcats currently hold a 6-3 overall record with three losses in the NJAC, but a substantial record of 4-1 in away games may give the Sea Gulls some trouble. Although Frostburg plays well in opponent territory, they have lost their last two games in their schedule against Rowan University and Montclair State.
Frostburg’s head coach, DeLane Fitzgerald, currently in his second season, has molded the Bobcats into a better team statistically on the field and also improving in the win/loss column. Under Fitzgerald, Frostburg achieved success between the coach’s first season and now with an enhanced defense allowing fewer first downs, fewer yards rushing-per-game and cut opponents scoring by 17.4 points a game.
The Bobcats have a rookie on their hands with freshman quarterback Connor Cox, but his stats do not depict that of a first year player. His 1,154 yards passing included 11 touchdowns and a solid run game with 440 yards.
His only issues have been keeping the ball out of opponents hands. Cox has thrown 11 interceptions this season, which Salisbury will look to capitalize on come game day.
If Cox continues to consistently throw the ball, the Sea Gulls will have a handful on their hands especially with senior wide receiver Myles Burgess and junior Austin Bonsall. The duo has combined for 791 yards and seven touchdowns and gives Cox the weapons he needs to be successful.
On defense, senior linebacker Rowan Pinkett has 57 tackles for the season along with one sack. The majority of his tackles came against Kean University where Pinkett had 13 tackles, one sack, an interception and one broken up pass.
The Sea Gulls will need their secondary to be near perfect with Frostburg expecting to throw the ball down field. The Frostburg front-seven will need to play aggressive and quick in order to stop all the weapons the Gulls have in the run game.
Bragging rights are on the line, and the chance to get in the NCAA tourney.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Salisbury v. Frostburg; 17th Annual Regents Cup Game
WHERE: Sea Gull Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, November 14, 1:00 pm.