Salisbury falls to Christopher Newport in season opener

SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 16 Salisbury University football team suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Christopher Newport University as the Captains scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter to claim a 17-10 win Saturday night at Sea Gull Stadium in the season opener for both teams.

With the game tied, 10-10, the Captains (1-0) took possession of the ball with 5:32 remaining in the game, at the Christopher Newport 41-yard line. With seven plays, the Captains had driven to the Salisbury 18-yard line, including a pair of third down conversions, before Marcus Morrast connected down the left sideline with Paul Dukes for the 18-yard score and a 17-10 lead.

The Captains squibbed the ensuing kickoff, which senior Brendan Chavis returned 17 yards to the Sea Gulls' 41-yard line. With the Captain defense playing deep to prevent the big play, junior quarterback Joey Jones found wide receiver Isaiah Taylor in the middle of the field. Taylor rushed to get out of bounds, after 19 yards, at the CNU 40, stopping the clock with two seconds left.

Jones' final effort at the tying score was intended for Frank Lanham down the right side, but was knocked to the turf by A.J. Schmetzer, ending the game and the upset.

The Sea Gulls (0-1) began the game by taking the opening kickoff and marching 75 yards on eight plays for the first score of the game. Jones had five consecutive rushes on the drive, capped off by his 1-yard plunge. The point after, by Jack Molloy, gave Salisbury a 7-0 lead.

After the Salisbury defense forced a three-and-out, the Sea Gulls controlled the ball for another extended drive, moving 42 yards, highlighted by Jones' 42-yard pass play to wideout Michael Copenhaver, before stalling out on the Christopher Newport 18-yard line. Salisbury came up with no points on the drive, but held the ball for 11:13 in the open quarter, thanks to the two long drives.

Salisbury had five first downs in the opening quarter, but would see the offense struggled to sustain drives from that point on, finishing the game with nine total first downs.

Defense reigned in the second quarter, with six-consecutive three-and-out drives and the game would head to halftime with Salisbury still holding the 7-0 lead.

The Captains would break through in the third quarter, holding the ball for the first six minutes, and got on the board with a 34-yard Mason Studer field goal, cutting Salisbury's lead to 7-3.

After a three-play Salisbury drive, the Captains came up with another long possession, moving 82 yards, into the fourth quarter, and taking the lead on Morrast's 28-yard strike to Rudy Rudolph.

The 10-7 lead would be erased on the next possession as Jones drove his team 45 yards on nine plays. After a false start penalty, the Sea Gulls got a 14-yard run by Taylor and carries by Joe Sutch, Jones and Nick Aloi to get to the Christopher Newport 4, before settling for a 22-yard Molloy field goal, tying the game at 10.

Taylor finished with a team-best 40 rushing yards while Jones ran for 33 and the score. Jones also connected on 5-of-6 passes for 110 yards. Three of Jones' completions went to Copenhaver, who had 92 of Salisbury's receiving yards.

Sophomores Michael Landry and Nick Anzallo paced the Salisbury defense, with nine tackles each, while senior Jeremy Keith had eight tackles, 2.5 for loss, and a pair of sacks.

Salisbury will be back in action next Saturday, as the Gulls travel north for the Route 13 Rivalry, at No. 5 Wesley College, a 33-21 winner of No. 20 Widener University on Friday night. Next week's game will begin at 1 p.m.

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