Hounds knock off Indians for first time with timely plays
The streak is over, the curse has been lifted and the spell has been broken.
After years of close calls and more lopsided losses, the Salem Greyhounds finally broke free and solved the mystery of how to beat the Marked Tree Indians.
Down 14-7 early in the last quarter, Salem got a pair of scores off a couple of Marked Tree turnovers inside the seven-minute mark of the fourth to knock off the Indians 22-14 Sept. 10 at Greyhound Stadium in the 3AA-Conference opener for both squads.
The eight-point win marks the first time in school history that the Greyhounds have defeated the Indians in senior high football.
The game was anything but a work of art, as both sides struggled with penalties and costly turnovers.
Salem (1-1) logged six penalties, and quarterback Chad Willett (6-of-14, 99 yards passing) was picked off four times on the evening, while Marked Tree (1-1) endured eight infractions and lost the ball to the Greyhounds four times in the game. Marked Tree's starting quarterback, Michael Scott, was 1-of-10 in the passing department, while he rushed for 43 yards on six carries.
In front by a single point, 8-7, to start the fourth quarter, Marked Tree padded its lead as Brian Coleman (eight carries, 42 yards) polished off an eight-play, 50-yard drive with a touchdown scamper at the 9:41 mark on a first-and-goal from the Salem 9-yard line. Greyhound Matt Arnold blocked the point-after attempt, but the Indians held serve, up 14-7.
The Greyhounds' next series from scrimmage ended in disaster as Willett was intercepted by Michael Scott, giving the Indians possession at their own 10.
Marked Tree couldn't stand this good fortune, however, as a botched snap led to a loose football that Salem's Wes James fell on.
Setting up shop at the Indians' 11-yard line, the Hounds quickly cashed in as Mike Innis crossed the goal line at the 6:46 mark for Salem's first score since late in the first quarter. John Arrington booted the PAT to pull the Greyhounds even with Marked Tree at 14-all.
The wheels finally fell off the Indians' wagon on their next possession on offense.
Starting at their own 26, Marked Tree moved the ball onto Salem's side of the field when quarterback William Ruthven (four rushes, 18 yards) lost his grip on the pigskin on a bootleg scramble. Willett scooped the ball up at Salem's 44-yard line with 4:30 left in the game.
The Hounds took the ball to Marked Tree's 25 before the Indian defense stiffened and pushed Salem back on third down.
With just over a minute left in regulation, Salem delivered the killing blow thanks to the elusive Willett.
Tagged with a fourth-and-7 from the 25-yard line, Willett broke free on a quarterback keeper and ran into the end zone around the left end, giving Salem the lead. Phillip Taylor (15 carries, 49 yards rushing) carried the 2-point conversion in to make it 22-14, Salem.
Marked Tree's last hope at a win faded as they turned the ball over on four downs on their last possession of the contest.
The tone of the game had been set early as the Greyhound defense kept the speedy and always-dangerous Marked Tree offense in check the first half, holding the Indians to under 76 yards of total offense the first 24 minutes of play.
The Indians swiftly righted this in the first few minutes of the second half, thanks to the between-the-tackles running of Patrick Powell.
The Hounds got a steady diet of Powell (71 yards rushing on 10 carries) on Marked Tree's first offensive series of the third quarter, as the Indians gained more yardage (80) on that nine-play set then they did the entire first half.
Powell was rewarded for his work with a 9-yard touchdown run at the 4:50 mark of the quarter. He also scored on the Indians' 2-point conversion attempt to move Marked Tree in front 8-7.
The Greyhounds used a couple of runs by Lynn Harber (10 rushes, 42 yards) to set up a Willett touchdown on second-and-goal from the 4 with 32 seconds left in the first quarter to post the only score by either side the first 12 minutes of play. Arrington connected on the PAT to give Salem a 7-0 advantage, a lead they took to the half.
Willett was active on the defensive side of the ball as well with one interception and a fumble recovery. Thomas Cooper and Wes James also added fumble recoveries for the Hounds.
Willie Mitchell, Chad McCrary, Phillip Bickerstaff and Michael Scott all logged interceptions for the Indians.