SALISBURY, Md. -- The Salisbury University football team will contend for its sixth ECAC Bowl Game title on Saturday, playing for the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl at Muhlenberg College, beginning at 1 p.m.
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Today's contest marks the second meeting between the two programs. It is the second time the squads have met in the postseason, with the Mules claiming a 31-21 win during the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2007.
Last Time Out
Salisbury rolled to a 70-14 win in the 15th annual Regents Cup game last Friday against Frostburg State University. The Bobcats scored the first touchdown of the night and looked to be heading toward a two-score lead until senior safety Greg Stanton picked of Teron Tyre's pass at the Salisbury 7-yard line and scampered 93 yards for the game-tying touchdown. Salisbury scored two more touchdowns, both on runs by sophomore quarterback John Dunbar, before Frostburg scored its final points in the second quarter, cutting the lead to 21-14. The two scores were the first of five on the night for Dunbar (four rushing and one passing). Salisbury would score on seven-straight possessions, into the fourth quarter to take control. Dunbar ran for 109 yards while Stanton grabbed another pick in the second quarter and finished with five tackles.
Last Time We Met
When the teams met in 2007, the Mules opened up a 14-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the contest before Salisbury got on the board with a 54-yard run by Valdase Morris. Muhlenberg scored again to make it 21-6 before a 1-yard run by Jamar Garner and a 77-yard touchdown pass by Ronnie Curley to Kevin Tillage, followed by a two-point conversion run, tied the game at 21-21. But Muhlenberg would score two more times to advance to the second round. Salisbury has not thrown for more passing yards since the 210 through the air that day.
The Mules enter today's game riding a six-game winning streak, with no game being decided by fewer than 12 points during the stretch. Most recently, Muhlenberg knocked off Moravian, 24-12, last Saturday. The Mules scored on a Kevin Van Laar 2-yard run in the first quarter and never trailed. Moravian scored, but failed on a two-point conversion try that would have allowed the lead to change hands. Seventeen points by the Mules would put the game away. Muhlenberg is 5-0 at home this season.
The Mules are led offensively by freshman quarterback Nick Palladino, who has connected on 144-of-234 passes for 1,826 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's also rushed for 373 yards and six more scores. Van Laar has gone for 579 yards on the ground and 10 trips to the end zone. Defensively, linebacker Gene Blanco has paced the squad with 78 tackles, including a pair of sacks, and one interception.
Palladino was named the league's Rookie of the Year this week, along with 11 others selected for the All-Centennial Conference team: defensive end Greg DeLade, linebacker Ian Gimbar, wide receiver Cody Geyer, tight end Michael Long and offensive tackle Bryan Auvil, cornerback John Feaster linebacker Jeremey Thomas guard Tommy DeVito, nose tackle Kevin Cellary, safety Tyler Cerbo kicker/punter Connor Winter.
Shutting them down
The Salisbury defense has limited its opponents in every aspect of the game this season. The Sea Gulls are ranked 14th in the nation, giving up just 98.2 rushing yards per game. The team is also 30th in total defense, surrendering 292.9 total yards per game. Most importantly, Salisbury is tied for 39th in all of Division III football allowing opponents to score only 16.7 points per game.