SALISBURY, MD- The Christopher Newport football team opened the 2013 season Saturday night, and posted an exciting 17-10 win at Salisbury. CNU used two second-half touchdown passes from junior Marcus Morrast, the second with just 15 seconds remaining, to knock off the 16th-ranked Sea Gulls.
"This is a great win for our program," Head Coach Matt Kelchner said. "Anytime you can beat a ranked team on the road, especially a highly-regarded program like Salisbury, it's a great feeling. Our kids worked hard and it paid off."
The Captains were held scoreless in the first half, but their defense was able to hold Salisbury to just one score on the opening drive of the game. CNU went to the locker room at the half down just 7-0.
"Our defense was a big part of the story. I really can't say enough about what we did tonight defensively," Kelchner said. "Our coaches really worked hard to get ready for this team and their option offense. I think we were ready."
CNU's offense came to life in the second half, mounting a 60-yard drive to open the third quarter that resulted in a 34-yard field goal from Mason Studer to make it 7-3.
After the defense held the Sea Gulls to a three and out, the Captains travelled 82 yards on 11 plays to take their first lead of the season. Morrast, CNU's junior quarterback, connected with junior receiver Rudy Rudolph on a 28-yard pass play on the opening play of the fourth quarter to give the Captains a 10-7 edge.
Salisbury bounced back, thanks to a 50-yard kickoff return following the CNU score. The Sea Gulls eventually posted a 22-yard field goal from sophomore Jack Molloy to tie the game at 10-10.
CNU would get the ball back with five and a half minutes to play, and Morrast and the offense went back to work.
The Captains started at their own 41 yard line and began chipping away. CNU moved the ball down the field and kept the clock running, taking a time out in the final minute with the ball at the Salisbury 18 yard line.
Morrast then rolled out using play action and hit sophomore Paul Dukes across the field inside the five yard line. Dukes waltzed into the endzone with the game-winning score, giving CNU the 17-10 triumph.
"We have been running that play well in practice, and it worked well tonight," Kelchner said. "Now I guess we'll have to come up with a counter for it."
Morrast finished the night 15 of 25 for 146 yards, two scores, and no interceptions. Dukes carried the ball 15 times for 62 yards, and Rudolph caught five passes for 61 yards and a score. Senior Richard Roethel also caught six passes for 59 yards.
"On offense, our read option is tough to stop...once we got it rolling we really started clicking," Kelchner continued. "Marcus Morrast got off to a slow start, but he really got it going."
Morrast was just one for his first six pass attempts, but then completed 14 of his last 19 attempts.
On defense, senior Evan Moog led the squad with 13 tackles, while fellow senior Tyler Portell posted 11 stops.
The triumph snapped a three-game Salisbury winning streak in the series. Salisbury now holds an 8-4 lead all-time.
A crowd of 3,326 watched the opener for both schools. Neither team committed a turnover in the battle.
Salisbury plays at Wesley next week, while the Captains host Hampden-Sydney next Saturday night at POMOCO Stadium at 7 p.m. Hampden-Sydney is also 1-0 following a 42-12 win over Averett on Saturday to open the season.