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Sherman Wood said avoiding letdown for Salisbury football is as easy as looking at race for conference title

Significant wins are thrilling moments for players, coaches and fans alike. But the danger is that a team can get swept up in the euphoria after a victory and suffer a catastrophic letdown in its next game or the remainder of the season.

That potential scenario could play out for Salisbury, which scored a stunning 37-34 overtime win against then-No. 6 and Empire 8 Athletic Conference foe St. John Fisher on Saturday.

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The worry is that the Sea Gulls (2-2 overall and 1-1 in the league) might not be able to match that performance in Saturday's contest against Utica (4-1, 2-1), but coach Sherman Wood said the team should draw inspiration from a particular source.

"The motivation is the conference," he said Wednesday. "These kids want to win the conference championship and in order to make that happen, they have to take it one game at a time and respect every team that we play. This Utica football team is averaging 30 points per game, they have a sound defense, they're big kids, and they're 4-1.

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"So we learned our lesson from the Wesley game and we learned our lesson from the Buffalo State game. … I feel confident about our team, and all we can do is make sure that they're not overconfident and understand that this is another opportunity that you have. This is the second half of the season, and we've learned our lessons through the first half. They don't want that feeling again."

At 1-1 in the league, Salisbury is tied with Hartwick (2-2, 1-1) for fifth place and trails leader Ithaca (4-0, 3-0), which sits at No. 13 in the most recent American Football Coaches Association Division III poll. The team does have upcoming games against Hartwick on Oct. 18 and Ithaca the following week to make a charge.

Saturday's contest at 12 p.m. will be only the Sea Gulls' second played at Sea Gull Stadium, and Wood is hoping to see a better effort than the one that showed up for a 43-5 rout by No. 4 Wesley on Sept. 13.

"This is only the second time that our home crowd has seen our football team, and the first time was the embarrassment against the Wesley team," he said. "Right now, regardless of what we did against St. John Fisher, that's the impression that our students have about our football program. So we need to put on a tremendous effort in this next home game to hopefully get our fans back."

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