Note: I currently have the privilege of attending a fine university, with a rich history in sports and countless opportunities for students in journalism. I now have a sports talk radio show, “GullTalk Live!”, and I am surrounded by many incredible athletes, writers, announcers, and Radio DJ’s. Here is just one of the many pieces I plan to write in the coming semesters, about our incredible athletics at Salisbury University.
November 12, 2017
By Benjamin Brunner
It was the 19th annual Regents Cup at Seagull Stadium in Salisbury, Md., between the Salisbury Seagulls and the visiting Frostburg State University Bobcats on Saturday. I arrived around 12:45, and it was so cold, I had to use my cheeseburger as a hand warmer. It was a great experience, because I got to put my sportswriter hat back on for the first time in years, and I had always wanted to write about a football game. The magical moment came around 12:55 p.m., when the colors were marched onto the field, and the national anthem was played. The entire stadium went silent. And no one knelt. After that rare and brief moment of unity, it was time to put nose-tackle-to-gridiron.
FSU won the toss, and elected to defer. Salisbury started the game with the ball, and a 27-yd kickoff return. Everything seemed to be going well, until the Gulls fumbled and turned the ball over on the 3rd play of the first drive. The Bobcats took over with great field position, and the SU Defense held, forcing a quick three-and-out. Instead of kicking an easy field goal from the 24 yard line, FSU made a strange decision to go for it on 4th down, and turned the ball over on downs. Quarterback Brandon Lewis mostly ran and handed the ball off during the 1st, but he made several first downs. Both defenses held until the end of the opening quarter, when the Gulls drove the ball down to the 26 yard line of Frostburg. A guy behind me kept yelling “I smell a touchdown!”, but the aroma soon faded, when a Salisbury three-and-out led to a missed field goal attempt to start the 2nd quarter. Midway through the 2nd, a roughing-the-passer penalty by SU put FSU on the path to 6. Two plays later, a leaping, one-handed catch off of a tipped pass, led to the first score of the game from Sergio Andino, putting FSU on the board and on top, 7-0 after the extra point. Soon after, a Salisbury fumble and a Salisbury interception both led to nothing, and the half ended with FSU still on top.
If there were enough balls dropped to cover New Year’s Eve for the next millenium in the first half, the 2nd half had more flags than the United Nations. The Bobcats started the 2nd half of The Pigskin Ballet with a drive taking them to the Salisbury 13 yard line. The payoff? A blocked field goal attempt. The blocked field goal must have been the take off point for the Seagulls; the ensuing drive led to a 42 yard run to the end zone…negated by an Illegal Shift penalty. The SU defense delivered, however, holding the Bobcats to a goose egg in the 3rd Quarter.
Several FSU mistakes in the 4th quarter, including a muffed punt, led to Salisbury’s first score of the game: a 47 yard touchdown run by SB Malique Pratt to tie the game at seven-all with 12 minutes to go. The Bobcats continued to folly, negating a 40-yard catch and run to the end zone with an illegal block-in-the-back. Lucky for Frostburg, back-to-back 15-yard penalties by Salisbury put the Bobcats in great position to…punt the ball back to the Seagulls after TWO MORE penalties totaling 25 yards. With 15 seconds to go, Salisbury had the win in their hands with a 40 yard field goal attempt…and missed it. So, it’s on to overtime!
FSU won the overtime coin toss, and chose to play defense. On 3rd down, the Gulls threw an interception to FSU, who was then backed up to the 40 yard line because of a taunting penalty. FSU blew their opportunity to win the game, missing a field goal and taking the game to double overtime! In double sudden death, FSU started at the 25 and scored a touchdown almost immediately, to make the score 14-7. But wait! Salisbury still has a turn to give us an early Christmas gift: a 3rd overtime! The Gulls started at the 25, and fumbled the ball on the second play. FSU recovered, and the Regents Cup was retained by Frostburg.
Both teams could still be entered into the NCAA Division III tournament and the Eastern CAC Football Fest. The Seagulls finished the season with a 7-3 overall record, and a 7-2 conference record. The Bobcats finished 9-1 overall and 8-1 in the NJAC.