By ZACH GILLELAND
Saturday saw an opportunity for a fresh start and a rematch from an old foe. Below The Flyer recaps both Salisbury football and field hockey in their match-ups at Sea Gull Stadium.
Football: 63-7 win vs William Paterson
Field position proved to be the difference maker in Salisbury’s 38-35 overtime loss at Albright College on Sept. 1. A sack and an intentional grounding penalty on the Sea Gull’s first overtime possession forced a 48-yard field goal attempt from Alex Potocko that ultimately came up short.
Seeking a fresh start and their first win, field position became an advantage for Salisbury. On the opening kickoff, senior slot back Blake Joppy returned the opening kickoff 59 yards to the William Paterson 30-yard line.
Last season, senior wide receiver Sean Rowland returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown during Sea Gull Stadium’s reopening against Albright. Joppy said he tried to one-up his fellow senior with his return.
“Me and Sean are great friends,” Joppy said. “We are always talking to each other, encouraging each other and we’re back there trying to make a great play for the team. We always want to get the [opening kickoff] as far as we can.”
Along with the opening kickoff Joppy’s three punt returns averaged 36 yards including a 67-yard return to the one-yard line.
With the field position on the opening drive, Salisbury scored just three plays later with junior Michael Fowler scoring from 23 yards out on a pitch to the right side. Fowler, alongside senior superback KaDarrius Campbell, received the bulk of playing time in place of senior Ryan Kolb, who received an injury against Albright. The duo combined for 81 yards and four touchdowns.
“They were ready,” SU Head Coach Sherman Wood said. “You have to have that starter’s mentality because you never know when your name will be called. I thought both of those guys did really well.”
Senior quarterback Brandon Lewis completed three passes in five attempts for 63 yards and a touchdown. Lewis connected on a 35-yard pass to Brad Rose to give the Sea Gulls a 14-0 lead.
Senior super back Malique Pratt led the maroon and gold with 84 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. The offense ran the ball effectively throughout, rushing for 345 yards.
Defensively the Sea Gulls held the Pioneers to 131 total yards on offense. Linebackers Patrick Bernardo and Zach Wolfrey led the team with six tackles apiece, while freshman corner Xavier Harkum recorded an interception.
UP NEXT: Salisbury travels to Union, N.J. to take on Kean University on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Field Hockey: 2-1 OT loss vs Messiah
In recent years, the rivalry between No. 3 Salisbury and No. 1 Messiah has become one of the top in all of Division III athletics. The Sea Gulls came into Saturday night’s matchup with a 19-18 edge in the all-time series including two victories over the Falcons in the National Championship Game in 2005 and 2009.
Last season it was Messiah who came out on top, scoring three-consecutive goals en route to a 3-2 win and snapping SU’s five-game winning streak in the series. The Falcons went on to win 20-straight games to accomplish the programs first National Championship.
Saturday’s matchup had all the ingredients to be another classic—and it delivered.
Both teams continued to trade back-and-forth offensive possessions with no team finding an edge early on.
With two minutes remaining in the first half, Salisbury broke through on a goal by senior forward Natalie Wilkinson. Assisted by sophomore Tara Daddio, Wilkinson’s second goal of the season allowed SU to take a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The defending National Champions came out aggressive in the second half, outshooting the Sea Gulls 8-2. Both teams failed to convert on eight penalty corners.
Following a Salisbury foul inside the stroking circle, Messiah defender Shayna Landis scored on a penalty stroke to tie the game with 15 minutes left.
The Falcons continued pressuring the back line of SU’s defense early into overtime. A yellow card from Sea Gull defender Jillian Hughes gave the Falcons a man-up advantage.
The yellow card proved to be the difference maker as Messiah forward Kezia Loht scored off a two-on-one breakaway to end the game.
Even with the loss, SU Head Coach Dawn Chamberlin was happy with her team’s performance.
“I’m very, very pleased with how we performed today,” Chamberlin said. “I’m very proud of them, they came out and held their own against the defending National Champs. We’ve got a lot of young players who haven’t had much game experience at this level and I thought we did a nice job.”
The Falcons outshot the Sea Gulls 15-6. SU goalie Tressie Windsor saved eight shots.
“These are the kind of games that are fun,” Windsor said. “I tried to be aggressive because I’d rather get up to them first than give them the opportunity to shoot on me.”
UP NEXT: Salisbury continues their home stand as they take on Washington College in an Eastern Shore matchup on Wednesday at 6 p.m.