Football team shut out by NW
After Michael Abraham's 17-yard run on Salisbury's first play from scrimmage, the Falcons offense seemed ready for a break out game Friday night at Northwestern.
But the offense stalled from there, going the rest of the first half without a first down and falling behind 13-0 by the end of the second quarter en route to a 23-0 loss to the Tigers.
"Their defense was that good tonight," said first-year Salisbury head coach Andy Cerco. "They played very, very hard.
"We've just got to find a way to click on offense. We need to keep our defense off the field. We need to evaluate some things as coaches and make some decisions as to what we're doing."
Salisbury's defense forced Tiger three-and-outs on four of Northwestern's seven first-half possessions and caused a fumble on another. It only allowed one first-half drive longer than six plays, but with the offense holding the ball for only a minute or two at a time, it wasn't enough to contain Northwestern's offense.
The Tigers had been shut out 41-0 by Palisades in their opener and were focused on getting their offense going in week 2, especially a running game that was held to no yards on 20 carries a week earlier.
"That's never happened to me before," said Tiger running back Mason Schuler, who had 80 yards on 16 carries against Salisbury. "I wasn't letting that happen again. Our line wasn't letting that happen again."
The Falcons had a golden opportunity to take the lead near the middle of the first quarter. Logan Renninger recovered a Tiger fumble at the Northwestern 17-yard line. The Falcons were stuffed for a two-yard loss on first down, threw incomplete on second down, got knocked back another four yards on third down and turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass on fourth down.
When the Tigers got the ball back on the Salisbury 23-yard line, they went the distance in 10 plays, capped by freshman Dylan Snyder's 31-yard touchdown catch for a 6-0 lead with 11:50 left in the first half.
Northwestern also got a big boost from its special teams. After a Justin Betz punt pinned Salisbury to its own one-yard line in the second quarter, the Tigers defense held them right there to force a punt from the end zone. Cameron Richardson returned it 34 yards for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead with 6:18 left in the second quarter.
Salisbury finished the first half with just 34 yards of offense and had just 80 yards in the game. Northwestern had 254 total yards, including 170 rushing.
The Falcons sustained drives early in the second half, but came up empty on both. The Tigers added to their lead with a nine-play drive late in the third quarter. Quarterback Frank Dangello hit Tyler Richardson for a 16-yard touchdown and a 20-0 lead. They capped the scoring with a 25-yard John Dolonich field goal with 4:56 left in the game.
Despite the loss, the Falcons had some solid individual performers in the game. Defensive back Troy Parton made several tackles. Linebacker Tyler Waterman also made some big stops.
Offensively, the quarterbacks went 4-for-13 without throwing an interception. Derek Brown completed one of his five attempts. Abraham connected on three of his eight passes.
Cerco was not pleased with much about his team's performance, but he was glad to see his players battling right up to the final horn.
"Our second half performance was positive," said Cerco. "The kids could have easily folded their tents and gone home, but they stepped up. They held them to a field goal when they had the ball in our territory. They played hard."
That's the biggest thing we're trying to teach these kids is that whether we're up by 20 or down by 20, we're still playing hard. And they're really buying into it."