MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The Salisbury University football team captured its first win of the year in its first New Jersey Athletic Conference game on Saturday afternoon, defeating Montclair State University 46-14.
After two punts on their first two drives, the Sea Gulls only needed two plays on their third drive to score the game's first points. After a Montclair punt pinned the Gulls at their own 7-yard line, senior Jerome Johnson took the ball for a 7-yard run to give the offense some room to operate.
Junior Ryan Jones dropped back on the next play, finding junior Aarron Moore on the pass for an 86-yard touchdown. Following the Zak Osborne extra point, Salisbury led 7-0 with 5:57 left in the first quarter.
The Salisbury defense continued to shut down the Red Hawks' offense, forcing two more punts, with the second one giving the Gulls' offense the ball back with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
Junior Connor Canonico opened the drive with a 6-yard run, before Johnson ripped off a 48-yard rush to move into Montclair territory at the 34-yard line.
After rushes from Jones, Johnson, and Moore to move to the Montclair 18, Osborne knocked through a 35-yard field goal to push the lead to 10-0.
The Red Hawks were again forced to punt, and on the Sea Gulls' ensuing drive, they continued to build their advantage to 16-0. Salisbury only needed four plays to go 70 yards in 1:50, as no play gained less than 10 yards.
Jones began with a 39-yard rush, before capping the series with a 10-yard touchdown run. Johnson and Moore tallied rushes of 11 and 10 yards, respectively, to set up the Jones score.
Salisbury found pay dirt for the third-straight drive three minutes and 26 seconds before the half. Big plays continued to power the offense, as Jones found senior Isaiah Taylor on a 39-yard pass to move from the Montclair 48 down to the 9-yard line. After a 6-yard Canonico rush, Johnson ran in from 3-yards out, and with the Osborne extra point, the Sea Gulls took a 23-0 lead.
The lead would hold into halftime, as Johnson led the team with 76-yards rushing and a touchdown.
Montclair began the second half with the ball, but on the fourth play of the drive, senior Austin Howard picked off a Ryan Davies pass and returned it 7 yards. Following a Red Hawk penalty, the Salisbury offense was set up on the Montclair 19-yard line.
It only took three plays for Jones to find Johnson on a 9-yard pass to give the Gulls a 29-0 lead to start the third quarter.
The Red Hawks answered just 34 seconds later at the 11:01 mark of the quarter for their first score to cut the lead to 29-7.
The teams again traded touchdowns over the next two drives, with sophomore Dandre Dennis capping off a four-play, 52-yard drive with a 5-yard run for Salisbury to take a 36-7 advantage, before Davies found Zach Liguori halfway through the third quarter on a three yard pass to bring the score to 36-14.
That is all the Salisbury defense would give, however, as the Sea Gulls notched another touchdown with 1:33 left in the third quarter to grow the lead to 43-14, after Osborne's fourth extra point.
Jones scored the touchdown on a 30-yard run for his second of the game, capping a 151-yard day on the ground to lead the team. He also threw for 162 yards and two scores on 6-of-11 passing.
Osborned capped the game for Salisbury with 6:05 left with his second field goal, hitting from 28 yards.
Johnson picked up 96 yards on the ground, to go with a touchdown, and Dennis rushed for 59 yards and a score.
Moore led the team with 106 receiving yards on two catches, while Taylor led with three catches, picking up 47 yards.
The offense picked up 382 yards on the ground and 544 yards of total offense, while the Salisbury defense bottled up the Montclair rushing attack for only 84 yards.
The Sea Gulls are back in action on Saturday, September 26 for their home opener, hosting Southern Virginia University in NJAC action; the opening kickoff is set for 1 p.m.