BY STEPHEN CHOTT
SU Athletics photo
After defeating Wesley last week and capturing a 28-27 win over Frostburg Saturday afternoon, the Salisbury football team claimed the Regents Cup and co-championship in the New Jersey Athletic Conference sending them to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012.
It wasn’t easy for the Sea Gulls, as they had to rally in the final quarter in order to capture the win.
Salisbury came out slow in the first half and dug themselves into a hole, going scoreless in the first half. The offense turned the ball over twice, with one interception and one fumble and were unable to get anything going.
With Frostburg leading 20-0 at halftime, the Sea Gulls needed a spectacular second half in order to come away with the win and punch their ticket to the postseason.
Penalties and turnovers that plagued the Gulls in the first half had to be cut out.
“To be honest we didn’t make a lot of changes,” Sea Gulls’ head coach Sherman Wood said regarding the team’s halftime adjustments. “The coordinators were talking about firing off the ball and executing our plays and I agreed with them. We were frustrated but we just needed to settle down and execute.”
Once the second half got underway, Salisbury was able to cut down the lead, but committed two key penalties allowing Frostburg to put up a 27-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Frostburg quarterback Connor Cox had stumped the Sea Gulls all day in the air and on the ground, but the Sea Gulls were able to come up with key stops in the final quarter as their own quarterback, Ryan Jones stepped up.
Jones threw for three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes as the Sea Gulls made their comeback.
Even with momentum on their side, the game looked like it was in doubt with the Sea Gulls facing fourth and 15 on their own 34-yard line with 58 seconds left.
Jones avoided a rush attack by the Frostburg defense and found Regent Cup MVP, wide receiver Isiah Taylor, who made an unbelievable one handed catch for the 51 yard gain into Frostburg territory.
“Jonesy put it in right place,” Taylor said. “We’ve been doing that since high school. It was an awesome play.”
The Sea Gulls completed their comeback when Jones found Taylor again in the end zone for a ten yard touchdown that gave them their first lead of the game with 36 seconds left in the game. Sea Gull Stadium erupted in cheers as those who decided not to abandon the game at halftime got a treat when the Sea Gulls’ electric comeback was complete.
“We had to check ourselves at halftime,” Jones said. “We were doing things that were hurting ourselves. We came out in the second half and played our game like we have been all season and things went our way.”
The Sea Gulls celebrated with both the Regents Cup and NJAC trophies at the end of the game while Taylor was presented with MVP. The game marked Salisbury’s eleventh straight win over Frostburg in the annual matchup.
Salisbury now waits to see who and where they will play the first round of the NCAA tournament, where they hope their current momentum will carry them to a National Championship.