NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The No. 17 Salisbury University football team battled with Christopher Newport University on Saturday afternoon and came away with a come-from-behind 45-24 victory to remain at the top of the New Jersey Athletic Conference standings.
After the game was tied at 17-17 at the break, the Captains (5-3, 4-3 NJAC) got the first score of the second half when Daquan Davis carried it in from 5 yards out, capping a 59-yard drive. The 24-17 lead would be the final advantage of the night for Christopher Newport as the Sea Gulls (7-1, 6-1 NJAC) came up with 28 unanswered points to finish the contest.
The Captains got the ball back on a fumble, but the Salisbury defense forced a three-and-out possession for Christopher Newport to get the ball back. The Salisbury offense advanced 28 yards into CNU territory before senior quarterback Ryan Jones launched a pass down the middle of the field, behind the Captain defense, which Ryan Kolb ran under for the score to tie the game after Alex Potocko's point after.
The Salisbury defense brought the next CNU drive to an end quickly when quarterback K.J. Kearney looked over the middle, and was just behind his receiver, putting the ball into the hands of Salisbury freshman Andre Boone. Boone returned the ball 29 yards into Captains territory as the third quarter came to a close.
Salisbury scored on two of its final three offensive possessions, but would be matched by a defensive score, earning a 21-0 edge in fourth quarter scoring. Jones got into the end zone from 4 yards out after the Boone pick, and the Sea Gull defense allowed three first downs before senior Christian Wilson broke up a pass down the right sideline near the end zone on fourth down to stall the CNU drive and get the ball back for the Sea Gulls.
Despite the Sea Gulls being forced to punt on their next drive, the defense continued a stellar second half showing, quickly ending the next possession when senior Tyler Paradysz pried the ball from the hands of Davis and Kenny Vercilien fell on the ball and maintained his grasp at the bottom of the pile at the CNU 41-yard line.
It took just eight plays for the Sea Gulls to get in the end zone on a Brady Curley 2-yard run and a 38-24 lead.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, the pairing of Paradysz and Vercilien came through again. This time it was a Paradysz strip of Kearney, which Vercilien scooped up and went 27 yards for a defensive touchdown, sealing the victory.
The fumble was one of four takeways for the Salisbury defense in the game, which had one more, with sophomore Shane Gaines intercepting Kearney's final pass attempt, allowing Jones to kneel and end the game.
The Sea Gull defense held the Captains to 1-of-9 on third and fourth downs in the second half to complete the comeback. Wilson and Harold Kwigova each recorded a team-high six tackles in the win, with Kwigova notching a sack and a tackle and a half for a loss, while C.J. Walters also had a sack.
One of the team's top performances came on special teams where Potocko was a perfect 6-for-6 on extra points and booted a career-long 40-yard field goal in the first half which gave the Gulls their first lead of the day.
Offensively, Kolb recorded 89 rushing yards and 48 receiving, while Jones rushed for 80 yards and the score. Jones was also 6-of-12 passing for 99 yards and two touchdowns, connecting in the first half with Sean Rowland for a 17-yard strike.
The Sea Gulls return to action next Saturday, November 5, taking on Wesley College in the final regular season home game. Kickoff is slated for noon, with Senior Day festivities taking place prior to the game.