WILMINGTON – Thrown a curveball a week before the regular season began, the Salesianum football team did not miss a beat. The Sals, with their expected third-string quarterback under center, used a powerful running game – led by four touchdowns for junior halfback Andrew Watkins – and a stifling defense to shut down Concord, 44-0, Sept. 8 at Baynard Stadium.
With preseason starter Gabe Puzzangara nursing an injured right shoulder, and his backup not available, sophomore Dylan Mooney lined up under center. The Sals stuck primarily to a mix of running backs, but Mooney showed a nice touch the few times he was asked to throw.
Things started in Salesianum’s favor beginning with the coin toss. The Sals Kevin Faries returned to kickoff to the Raiders’ 47-yard line, where the offense went to work. On a first down from the Concord 37, senior fullback Jesse Wheatley scampered for 20 yards, and after Watkins gained a yard, Wheatley carried for 16 to the Concord 1. Watkins finished the drive, and the score was 7-0 four minutes into the contest.
The Sals’ defense did its part, forcing the Raiders into a three-and-out. Taking over at midfield, Wheatley took the ball 30 yards to the Concord 12. From the 5-yard line, he went another four yards, and Wheatley also got the touchdown on the next play. This time, Mooney kept the ball and successfully completed the two-point conversion.
The home defense, in the meantime, was stout. Unofficially, the Sals held the Raiders to a single first down in the first half, and Concord was consistently pinned deep in its own territory.
Mooney had a chance to show off his passing touch late in the first, finding Sean Regan along the left sideline for an 18-yard gain that set the team up inside the Concord 10-yard line. Wheatley ran on first down for seven yards, putting the ball at the 2 as the quarter ended. They needed all four downs, but Sallies capitalized once again when Watkins scored his second TD of the evening running off right tackle. The extra point made it 22-0.
Salesianum again used great field position to extend the lead with 3:03 remaining before halftime. Watkins picked up his third touchdown on a four-yard sweep, capping a 29-yard drive. Watkins closed out his scoring for the night just before halftime, splitting the Concord defense on a 30-yard run. The snap for the extra point was fumbled, but in a sign of just how things were going the Sals’ way, the holder picked up the ball, rolled to his right and floated a pass to Logan Bushweller for the deuce.
The Raiders were able to get their offense across midfield in the third quarter, but that drive ended with an interception. Salesianum’s David Harris ran for the last touchdown of the game with 7:19 to go.
The Sals (1-0) remain home next Friday night as Sussex Tech visits for a 7:30 p.m. start. Concord fell to 0-1 and travels to Newark on Friday at 7 p.m. in both teams’ Blue Hen Flight A Conference opener.