SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University football team won a shootout on Homecoming Saturday against Hartwick College, 59-49, as the teams combined for the most points scored in a Salisbury game since 2011.
The Sea Gulls (4-2, 3-1 Empire 8), who put up the fourth-highest rushing total in Division III this year with 514 yards on the ground, were paced offensively by junior slot Jerome Johnson, who went for 148 yards on just seven carries, junior quarterback John Dunbar, who rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore slot Aarron Moore, who found the end zone three times.
Defensively, junior linebacker James Hall led the way with 10 tackles, eight of which were solo stops, along with three sacks, five tackles for loss, and a forced fumble and recovery.
Hartwick (2-4, 1-3 Empire 8) got on the board first, jumping out to a 14-0 lead less than nine minutes into the game, but the lead would last only so long.
After Sam Clark's kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Sea Gulls the ball at their own 35-yard line, Salisbury needed just four plays to make it 65 yards for the score. Johnson broke out for a 37-yard run on first down, and Dunbar came up with runs of 14 and 19 yards to get the Gulls on the board.
The Salisbury defense would hold the Hawks on the next drive, as Hartwick went for it on fourth down at the Salisbury 37-yard line, but Torez Cooke broke up a Billy Hine pass to get the ball back for the Sea Gulls.
Salisbury tied the game with a four-play drive covering 63 yards into the second quarter. Sophomore Connor Canonico broke a 35-yard run to get the Gulls into Hartwick territory and Dunbar connected with Moore on a 30-yard pass to get Salisbury to the Hawk 4-yard line. Sophomore Ryan Kolb got the final four yards to tie the game. Canonico finished the game with 113 yards on the ground.
The Hawks would come right back, with a long pass play for a touchdown to retake the lead, but Salisbury would not be fazed as Kolb received the ensuing kickoff at the 15-yard line, broke a few tackles, including one from Clark at the Salisbury 45-yard line before finding daylight and then the end zone.
It is the second return touchdown this season for Kolb, who also took a punt back in the season opener at Christopher Newport University.
Hartwick would drive the field for a 27-21 lead, but Nick Ochoa blocked the extra point and the Sea Gulls would grab their first lead of the day with a nine-play, 75-yard drive with Moore getting in the end zone from 16 yards out. When sophomore Zak Osborne's point after was good, Salisbury led 28-27 with 1:32 left in the first half, but the scoring was not done.
Junior Michael Landry picked off Pine near midfield and Dunbar took the ball in from 45 yards out for a 35-27 lead before Hartwick found the end zone again. But the Hawks' two-point try failed and the Sea Gulls took a 35-33 lead into the break.
Moore got the scoring started in the second half, getting in the end zone on the third play from scrimmage, from 43 yards out, for the Sea Gulls' first two-possession lead, 42-33.
Junior James Bryant got the second interception of the day for the Salisbury defense, as the teams would trade possessions through the third quarter and Salisbury pushed the lead to 16 points when Shawnee Barrett could not handle senior Kyle Hamby's punt inside the 5-yard line, and sophomore Christian Wilson fell on the ball in the end zone for the touchdown.
Salisbury added a fourth-quarter touchdown from Moore, and Osborne tacked on a 25-yard field goal in the closing minutes to seal the win.
Salisbury will be back on the road next week, traveling to Ithaca College, on Saturday, October 25, for a 12 p.m., kickoff.