SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University football team stretched its New Jersey Athletic Conference winning streak to six games with a convincing 42-0 win against Southern Virginia University on Saturday at Sea Gull Stadium.
The six-game winning streak is the longest conference winning streak for the Sea Gulls (6-1, 6-0 NJAC) in a single season since the program posted a 7-0 mark in Empire 8 Athletic Conference play during the 2011 season.
The Salisbury defense continued its stellar 2017 campaign, not only notching its first shutout of the season and lowering its season average of points allowed to 11.7 per game, but also limiting the Knights (1-6, 0-6 NJAC) to just 126 yards of total offense. That defensive effort marks the fewest yards given up in a game since September 3, 2011, when the Sea Gulls held the Apprentice School to just 125 yards.
Senior Dakarai Ellis led the defensive effort, getting involved all over the field. He had four tackles, three of which were solo stops, while getting 2.5 tackles for loss. He laid a big hit in the second quarter, forcing a fumble, and kept the shutout intact in the same quarter, breaking up a fourth-down pass into the end zone.
Salisbury took the opening kickoff of the game and quickly drove 58 yards on seven rushes, capped by Brandon Lewis' 4-yard touchdown run. The senior quarterback rushed for 68 yards in the game while accounting for four of the team's six touchdowns – rushing for three and passing for one.
The Sea Gull defense got a quick three-and-out on the first Southern Virginia possession, setting up another Salisbury score, where senior Blake Joppy got into the end zone from a yard out, capping a 59-yard drive for a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff – something Alex Potocko achieved on four of his seven kickoffs, sending a fifth kick into the end zone, but saw it returned – the Knights went on their longest drive of the day, covering 58 yards. The visitors faced a fourth-and-4 situation early in the second quarter from the Salisbury 17-yard line and elected to try for the first down. Quarterback Ty Jones went for the score on the fourth-down play, launching a pass into the end zone, intended for Michael Carroll, but Ellis was able to get a hand in, breaking up the pass.
Salisbury got in the end zone two more times before the end of the half, scoring on all four first-half possessions, excluding a three-play drive that ended with end of the second quarter. Lewis hit on one of his six pass completions on the next drive, going 6-for-9 in the game for 60 yards, dropping a perfect pass to Damien King down the right sideline following a pump fake, connecting for a 19-yard scoring strike. Lewis also rushed in from 6 yards out with less than two minutes to play.
The Knights went for 68 yards of offense in the first half, but the Salisbury defense was even better in the final 30 minutes, holding Southern Virginia to 32 yards in the third quarter and just 26 in the fourth. Southern Virginia got just three first downs in the second half and didn't have a drive longer than 16 ayrds. Tom Montag had eight tackles in the game to lead the defensive effort, while Patrick Bernardo and Jock Simon each had five stops. Salisbury recorded eight tackles for loss in the game, including one sack which was picked up by freshman Andrew Raines.
The Salisbury offense accounted for 153 yards in the second half, with two more touchdowns. Lewis scampered in from 21 yards out while wide receiver Brian Hammond scored on an 8-yard reverse in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
Salisbury will be home again next Saturday, October 28, hosting Rowan University in a contest slated to begin at 1 p.m.