SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University football team picked up its first win of the 2017 season in its home opener on Saturday afternoon, rolling to a 63-7 victory against William Paterson University. The contest also marked the New Jersey Athletic Conference opener for each squad.
Salisbury took nearly all doubt about the outcome away in the first six minutes, scoring three quick touchdowns for a 21-0 lead.
The Sea Gulls (1-1, 1-0 NJAC) won the opening coin toss, elected to receive and nearly had a repeat of last season's first play in Sea Gull Stadium when Sean Rowland took the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Albright College. On Saturday, it was senior Blake Joppy that fielded the opening kickoff, making a few Pioneers miss and just getting brought down before breaking the ball down the left sideline. Joppy settled for a 59-yard return, to the William Paterson 30-yard line, setting up a quick scoring drive.
Three different ball carriers touched the ball on the opening drive, but it was junior Michael Fowler who broke the final carry 23 yards for the first score of the day.
On the third possession, the Sea Gulls needed just one offensive play, thanks to another scintillating return from Joppy, this time on a punt. Paterson punter Nick Savigliano's kick was a low line drive which Joppy raced to his right to field on one bounce, taking the ball up the sideline before cutting across the field, and heading toward the left pylon. The last defender for the Pioneers was able to get a piece of Joppy inside the 5-yard line, bringing him down at the 1.
The offense may have put up the points, but it was a stellar defense that gave them the chance. The Salisbury defense, led by Tom Montag's three tackles and two each from Dakarai Ellis, Patrick Bernardo, and Brandon Robeson held the Pioneers (0-2, 0-1 NJAC) to just one first down and 32 yards of total offense in the opening 15 minutes.
William Paterson scored its only points of the game in the first quarter, on a 26-yard drive following an interception, the only Salisbury turnover of the day.
The Sea Gulls added a KaDarrius Campbell 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to earn a 28-7 lead at the half, rushing for 181 yards in the first half of play, while coming up with 66 passing yards off 3-of-5 passing from Lewis.
The Sea Gulls did not need to attempt a pass in the second half, rushing for another 127 yards, scoring five touchdowns and turning the ball over once on downs. Five different Sea Gulls scored in the final 30 minutes, including the second touchdowns of the day from Campbell and Fowler. Super back Malique Pratt led the way for Salisbury with 88 yards on the ground and one touchdown, while Frank Pipich Jr., and Derek Howarth each scored, as well.
The Sea Gull defense was paced by Zachary Wolfrey's six tackles, with 2.5 coming behind the line of scrimmage, while Bernardo also had six total tackles. Freshman defensive back Xavier Harkum earned the first interception of his collegiate career, picking off a Mike Yarosz pass in the third quarter and returning it 19 yards to set up a Campbell score.
The Salisbury defense held the Pioneers to just 2-of-12 conversions on third down tries, while William Paterson managed just 131 yards of total offense – the lowest allowed by the Sea Gulls since September 3, 2011 when they gave just 125 to the Apprentice School.
The Sea Gulls hit the road for their next two games, beginning next Saturday, September 16 at Kean University. That game will begin at 1 p.m.