NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Penalties and turnovers hurt Christopher Newport Saturday, as 19th-ranked Salisbury downed the Captains at POMOCO Stadium, 45-24. The Sea Gulls, now 7-1 overall and 6-1 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, scored the final four touchdowns of the day to break open a close game and send the Captains to their second straight defeat. The Captains were victimized by eight penalties for 121 yards, and committed four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles).
"I'm very disappointed in the way we finished the game, and I let our team know it," Head Coach Matt Kelchner said. "We made so many mistakes...not just late but early in the game too...we just couldn't recover from it. We've got two games left and we need to re-group and finish strong, and I can tell you it's going to be a long week."
CNU, now 5-3 overall and 4-3 in the NJAC, held a 24-17 lead in the third quarter only to watch the Sea Gulls score the final 28 points in front of a Homecoming crowd of 4,343. Salisbury maintained a first-place tie in the NJAC standings with Wesley and Frostburg State with the road win.
The game opened as a back-and-forth battle, and the longtime rivals ended up exchanging the lead five times. The scoreboard showed a tie game at the end of all three quarters, until the Sea Gulls posted three unanswered scores in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Senior tailback Daquan Davis rushed for 91 yards on 18 carries, and scored twice for the Captains. Davis opened the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown reception from junior quarterback K.J. Kearney in the first quarter, and later rushed five yards for a score midway through the third quarter to put the Captains ahead, 24-17.
The Sea Gulls then took over, evening the game late in the third quarter on a 48-yard scoring pass from Ryan Jones to Ryan Kolb. SU then re-claimed the lead on a four-yard run by Ryan Jones early in the final stanza and never looked back. Two more Salisbury scores, a two-yard run by Brady Curley and a 21-yard fumble return by Kenny Vercilien, sealed the Sea Gulls 21-point triumph. Salisbury is now 7-1 all-time at POMOCO Stadium, and the Sea Gulls hold a 10-5 lead in the all-time series.
Salisbury held just an 18-yard advantage in total yards for the game (414 to 396). Kearney finished the day 24 of 36 passing for 299 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. Junior Kyree Burton set a new school record for kickoff return yards, posting 199 on six runbacks. Burton was also CNU's top receiver, catching six balls for 56 yards, 27 coming on a second quarter scoring pass from Kearney. Burton concluded the day with 257 all-purpose yards, the fourth-highest total in a single CNU game ever.
CNU also scored on a 26-yard field goal from sophomore Rhett Morris just before intermission that tied the game at 17-17 at halftime. On defense, junior linebacker B.J. Hill led the way with 11 tackles and also forced a Sea Gull fumble. The Captains, who started the season 4-0, now will travel to New Jersey to play William Paterson next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. CNU will then conclude the season with a home game against Southern Virginia on November 12th at 3:00 p.m. at POMOCO Stadium.