Losing your starting quarterback would normally sound the alarm for many programs. But not Salisbury.
When senior John Dunbar went down with an undisclosed injury in the first quarter of the season opener at Albright on Sept. 4, the team didn't fret. It simply turned the ball over to junior Ryan Jones, who has guided the Sea Gulls to a 3-1 overall record and a 3-0 mark in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
"He's been pretty consistent," coach Sherman Wood said Thursday of the Parkton resident and Hereford graduate. "He's not your most athletic kid, but at the same time, he knows the offense better than we do. He just knows how to move the ball."
This isn't Jones' first ride in the saddle. When Dunbar suffered an injury last season, Jones started in the final three games and Salisbury won all three contests, including a 48-27 rout of Albright in the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl.
Jones was on the losing end of the rematch with Albright last month, but in the team's three victories, he has thrown four touchdowns and rushed for three more.
"Since that day when we started against Montclair, we put up 46 points against those guys, which is one of the best programs in the country, and Ryan Jones led the way," Wood said, referring to the Sea Gulls' 46-14 thumping of Montclair State on Sept. 19. "He was so determined and confident that he wanted to prove to everyone that he's a quality leader and quarterback, and the rest is history from there. He's been doing a great job for us."
Jones, who has thrown just 50 passes this fall, is not expected to drop back and carry the offense with his arm, Wood said. Instead, Jones can rely on the No. 3 rushing attack in Division III (365.5 yards per game) and five 100-yard rushers (including himself) to bruise opposing defenses.
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"We pretty much take what the defense gives us whether we're throwing the football or whether we're running the football," Wood said. "I will say in this case, we've been doing a great job of running the football and creating some lanes for our kids. … Our goal is to just get first downs and then perhaps from there, something will happen, but give credit to the people up front. The offensive line has definitely been paving the way for what we're doing so far."