Falcons start season 2-0
In the season opener, the Salisbury football team put up 47 points against Catasauqua. Week two saw the Falcon offense become much more subdued, but the defense stepped up to halt Northwestern and the Falcons left New Tripoli with a 7-3 win and a 2-0 record to start the season.
“When you start 2-0 like this, it starts to sink in that you can win football games,” said Salisbury head coach Andy Cerco. “I think we can build on that confidence and hopefully, keep it rolling. I really have to hand it to our kids and our coaching staff, because they’ve worked hard to get us off to a good start. We knew it was important to start strong, and they’ve all put in the work. Now we just need to keep going with that.”
The win gives the Falcons their first 2-0 start since 2003 and their sixth 2-0 start in league play since the Colonial League formed in 1975. They did it in 1975, ‘79, ‘82, ‘85 and 2003.
Through much of the first half last Friday, neither team could gain much momentum. Both teams had drives stall and result in either punts or turning the ball over on downs. Northwestern in particular saw their offense spit and sputter, at times looking good, only to have the Salisbury defense step up and kill any momentum they may have been gaining.
Northwestern got on the board first when senior Hunter Miller nailed a 39-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers’ scoring drive started on the Northwestern 26-yard line and they marched down to the Falcons 23, but 30 of the 51 yards that Northwestern gained came on Salisbury penalties. The first penalty was a roughing the passer call that moved Northwestern into Salisbury territory and on a third-and-nine play, the Falcons were flagged for pass interference that put the Tigers in a first-and-ten on the Salisbury 29. The defense stepped up on a third-and-four and stopped running back Jayden Allen for no gain, forcing the Tigers to rely on Miller’s foot.
“We made a couple mistakes on that drive that allowed them to keep moving, but ultimately, we were limiting their yardage and we came up with a big play at the end,” said Cerco. “We have to eliminate those mistakes, but any time that you give up just three points, your defense is doing something right.”
Northwestern (0-2) punted on its first two possessions of the second half and Salisbury turned the ball over on downs on their first trip down the field. On their second possession though, an 11-yard run by Cameron Vaka was aided by a personal foul on the Tiger defense, putting the Falcons on a first-and-10 at the Northwestern 46. Two plays later, Vaka hit Tommy Jones for a 22-yard pass giving Salisbury a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line. Tim Buda burst down to the four and on the next play, Kyle Pingarelli ran in for the only touchdown of the game.
“I think you have to hand it to that team [Northwestern],” said Cerco. “We have a lot of respect for them. They’re good kids. They’re well coached and they battle on every play. We knew coming in that they weren’t going to lay down and let us get out of here with an easy win, so we were prepared. They put up a battle and you have to respect that.”
Pingarelli led the ground game with 60 yards on 15 carries, while Buda carried the ball nine times for 46 yards in the game. Vaka completed five of 14 passes for 85 yards, with Lucas Irwin being his favorite target, pulling in three passes for 56 yards. The Falcons collected a total of 5-6 yards in their opening win, but were held to 213 yards of total offense against the Tigers.
Salisbury opened the season with back-to-back road games and they have their home opener Friday against Wilson. The 2-0 start, particularly with both games being on the road, has given the Falcons some confidence that they can buld on for the rest of the season.