Upset and the Century

CNU Football celebrates the team’s 100th win, a 51-39  win over Salisbury. Photo Courtesy of David Furrow

CNU Football celebrates the team’s 100th win, a 51-39 win over Salisbury. Photo Courtesy of David Furrow

The Captains made history as they took down 18th-ranked Salisbury 51-39 to secure the football team’s 100th win. This achievement comes in the program’s 15th season.

The first season
The team got its start in the year 2001. The Captains started the season off in less than ideal terms as they lost the first game of the season at home against Salisbury on Sept. 1 by a slim 13-6 margin. The team would go on to lose the next two games before securing their first victory against Greensboro on Oct. 6, 35-10.­­

Less than a week later, the Captains hosted Cowan on Oct. 13. The team’s 21-15 victory, driven by 100-yard performances by running backs Thomas Thornton and Kaveh Conaway, was the first win ever registered at POMOCO Stadium.

The Captains would go on to finish the season 5-4 overall and 5-1 in the Dixie Conference.

By being the co-conference champions, the Captain advanced to the NCAA tournament, which made CNU the first program in any division to qualify for the tournament in its first year.

Postseason play
Although qualifying for the NCAA playoffs in both the 2001 and 2002 season, the Captains were not able to make record their first postseason win until 2003.

After winning what was a program record eight games, the Captains’ expectations were high as they headed into a Nov. 22 matchup against Muhlenberg. Trailing 20-17 with just three minutes left in the game, CNU quarterback Phillip Jones found Nathan Davis for the game-winning touchdown that put the Captains up 24-20.

That was the first of three times that the Captains advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, the most recent of which occurred last season. Although the Captains have only been to the second round twice, the team has been to the postseason 10 times.

A change in conference
Up until this season, the Captains were members of the USA South, the current name for what used to be called the Dixie Conference. They had an incredible end to their time in the conference as they finished the 2014 season 7-1 to secure their 10th and final USA South title.

The team has had a much more difficult time in their new conference, the New Jersey Athletic Conference. After winning their first game against The College of New Jersey, the Captains have dropped six in a row—five of which were NJAC matchups—to guarantee the team’s first ever losing season ever.

Coach Kelchner hoists the Oyster Bowl trophy in 1991. File Photo by Katie Brackett

The man behind the team
Throughout the highs and the lows, the Captains have found a reliable and familiar face on the sidelines—Head Coach Matt Kelchner.

Kelchner, who graduated Susquehanna University in 1982, has a long football history. After graduating, Kelchner jumped from place to place for the next two seasons, spending time at Mansfield University and Dickinson College.

He found stability at his next job when he joined the William & Mary staff in 1984. He stayed with the Tribe for 16 years, a time over which he coached individuals such as Mike Tomlin, who became the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl when he accomplished that feat in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 100th win
It was fitting that the team’s 100th win came against Salisbury, the first team that the Captains ever faced. Daquan Davis had three touchdowns on the day, while Taylor Loudan was another key player for the Captains in this game, becoming one of only three CNU receivers to record over 200 yards in a single game. A majority of that yardage came from senior quarterback Tyler Quigley who finished the game with over 300 yards in the air.

In addition to a strong offense, the Captains’ defense made itself known at times. Of note was senior Mic Edwards who helped cement the Captains victory with a pick six late in the fourth.

For more in-depth coverage of the historic win, a full game recap can be found on pages one and 10.