Courtesy of Salisbury Athletics
- The Salisbury University football team was nine minutes from pulling an upset over No. 3 Wesley College, leading throughout much of Saturday's game at Sea Gull Stadium. But a 74-yard drive by the Wolverines midway through the fourth quarter, capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass, allowed Wesley to remain undefeated with a narrow 17-14 victory. The win also clinches the final Atlantic Central Football Conference championship for the Wolverines.
The Salisbury defense held one of the most powerful offenses in the nation to just 316 yards of total offense (the Wolverines were ranked 10th in the nation entering Saturday's game, averaging 485.29 yards per game) and forced three turnovers.
Wesley (8-0, 3-0 ACFC) scored on its opening drive of the day, marching 47 yards in just four plays to score on a Chris Cummings 1-yard quarterback sneak, 98 seconds into the contest. The 7-0 lead would not last long as the Sea Gulls countered with a scoring drive of their own.
Salisbury's 10-play, 84-yard drive was the longest drive of either team all day. The possession ate up 5:20 on the clock and was finished off when sophomore slot Brandon Norwood darted 3 yards into the end zone for the score. Sophomore A.J. Rosenthal's point-after tied the game at 7-7.
The Sea Gull defense made its first statement of the day on Wesley's next possession, as junior defensive back Paul Moore picked off a pass from Wesley quarterback Justin Sottilare on the second play of the Wolverine drive. Moore also had three tackles (two solo) in the game along with two pass break-ups.
Salisbury (6-2, 1-1 ACFC) took advantage of the turnover as it took just three plays to drive 33 yards, with junior slot Bryan Woolson doing the bulk of the damage on his 29-yard touchdown rush. Salisbury would hold the lead until late in the game as Wesley added a field goal with 4:21 remaining in the first half, and there would be no more scoring until the game-winning drive by the Wolverines.
The second half was a battle of field position as the teams went back and forth. The special teams game was key all day as Salisbury freshman punter Matt Elsasser kept the Wolverines pinned deep in their own territory. Elsasser had seven punts in the game, for a 35.7-yard average, and put five of his kicks inside the Wolverine 20-yard line.
The Wolverines put together their best drive of the day near the start of the fourth quarter, as they took over at their own 26-yard line. Wesley needed seven plays, balancing four rushing plays and three pass plays to cover 74 yards, capped by Sottilare's 27-yard strike to Ellis Krout with 8:44 to play for the 17-14 lead.
Sophomore slot Brandon Norwood led the Sea Gull rushing attack with 60 yards on four carries while sophomore defensive back Chris Everett led the defensive effort with eight tackles (five solo). Junior Ricky Cassidy had Salisbury's other interception.
The game was marred by mistakes as the teams combined to commit seven turnovers and 25 penalties in the contest.
The Sea Gulls will be off next week before their final game of the regular season, when they travel to Frostburg State University for the annual Regents Cup Game. The Sea Gulls hold a 21-16 edge in the all-time series and have won the last six meetings.