Salisbury falls to Muhlenberg in D3 football playoffs

Since making its first NCAA quarterfinal appearance since 2011, the Salisbury University football team witnessed an unbeaten season in the NCAA playoffs come to an end Saturday, with a 24-8 loss to Muhlenberg College (No. 4) at Sea Gull Stadium.

The quarterfinal loss gives the No. 6 Gulls an 11-1 record, after being picked to finish second in the New Jersey Athletic Conferences (NJAC) preseason poll. Salisbury was the No. 1 seed out of the East region of the playoffs, defeating SUNY Maritime and Union College in postseason action before losing to Muhlenberg, winners of the Centennial Conference.

Salisbury head coach Sherm Wood in the post game news conference praised his teams effort against a top opponent.

“No one before the season, no one thought we’d be here, no one” Wood said. “Unfortunately, with the situation today, that didn’t take away from the great season we had”

The Mules, who shut out their previous two postseason games, (a Division III record), held the Sea Gulls scoreless until the final quarter. It was only after 11 straight quarters that Salisbury redshirt Sophomore quarterback Jack Lanham scored from 3 yards out and dove across the goal-line for the two-point conversion.

That would be all the scoring for the Gulls, who were the highest scoring team left in the tournament before today’s contest.

Lanham was held to just 49 passing yards, completing only 4 passes on 17 attempts and had 21 rushing yards with an interception and a fumble. Salisbury senior linebacker Patrick Bernardo, with three solo tackles and nine assists, ends his career fifth on the programs all-time tackles list with 283.

Salisbury — who averaged nearly 475 yards of total offense per game — were held to just 176. The Sea Gulls, who will see 19 seniors leave the program, scored an average of 47.5 points a game while allowing 19.2 and were 6-1 at home and a perfect 5-0 on the road.

The Gulls were making their 11th appearance in the NCAA playoffs and are now 10-11 all-time in that tourney.

Muhlenberg junior quarterback Mike Hnatkowsky was 24 of 38 for 264 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. Senior wide receiver, Max Kirin, caught two of Hnatkowsky’s touchdown throws, finishing the afternoon with 6 catches for 88 yards.

Senior kicker, Todd Spirt connected on a 34-yard field goal and made all three of his extra point attempts.

The national semi finals will be Dec. 14, with St. John’s taking on UW-Whitewater and North Central (Illinois) playing Muhlenberg. The National Championship game, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl will be played on Dec. 20 at 8p ET in Shenandoah, TX. Defending champion Mary Hardin-Baylor lost to UW-Whitewater on Saturday, 26-7.

Salisbury will open up the 2020 regular season at home against Albright College in a nonconference contest on Friday Sept. 4, a 6 p.m. Eastern Time kick.

J. Brooks

J. Brooks is a Sports Anchor and Reporter with years of experience not only in the DMV but nationally through Westwood One, ESPN, CBS and SiriusXM. J., striving to be a cartoon voice, is also an actor appearing in many films and TV shows and who entertains the newsroom with his many impressions.

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