MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The Salisbury University football team claimed a 28-10 victory at Montclair State University on Saturday to remain unbeaten in New Jersey Athletic Conference play.
Salisbury (5-1, 5-0 NJAC) got the rushing game going early, taking the opening kickoff and driving 75 yards, all on the ground over eight carries, converting one third down along the way, with Malique Pratt getting the ball for the 1-yard touchdown run.
Senior quarterback Brandon Lewis carried the ball four times for 52 yards on the drive. He finished with a game and career-high 157 rushing yards.
The Red Hawks (3-3, 3-2 NJAC) were able to break one big play with a run of 60 yards on their second drive, which put Montclair inside the red zone, but the Salisbury defense held there, forcing a 25-yard field goal, which cut the lead to 7-3.
On the ensuing drive, the Sea Gulls pounded the ground game again – this time covering 63 yards on 10 carries with Lewis finishing off the drive with a 1-yard run.
The game was a four-point contest at the half, with the Red Hawks driving for a score with just over a minute left in the second quarter, to cut the Salisbury lead to 14-10.
At the break, the Red Hawks had gone for 180 yards of total offense, but would see limited movement in the second half, with the Salisbury defense giving up just 121 yards of total offense in the final 30 minutes, and coming up with three takeaways.
Montclair State took possession to begin the third quarter, but the Salisbury defense held, giving up just one first down on the opening drive and forcing a Red Hawk punt, allowing the Sea Gulls to push their lead back to multiple possessions.
Pratt got into the end zone for the second time, this time from 2 yards out to extend the advantage to 21-10, and Pratt capped the scoring on the first drive of the fourth quarter, plunging in from 3 yards out, marking the first three-touchdown game for the Sea Gulls since last year's ECAC Legacy Bowl, when Lewis went for three scores.
The Sea Gull defense limited Montclair throughout the second half, intercepting quarterback John Apicella three times. Dakarai Ellis, Keith Payne, and John Steele each had the interceptions, while Steele's pick with 1:30 showing on the clock in the fourth quarter sealing the victory.
The Sea Gull secondary broke up five other passes while Isaac Johnson came up with the team's only sack of the day.
Along with Lewis' big rushing game, Pratt went for 90 yards on the ground, as Salisbury ran for 390 yards, the most since the 2016 ECAC Bowl win, when the team went for 531 yards. Ryan Kolb added 81 rushing yards on just seven touches for an 11.6-yard average.
The Sea Gulls return home next week and will play three of their final four games at Sea Gull Stadium. Salisbury hosts Southern Virginia University on Saturday, October 21 beginning at 1 p.m.