It appears the Salem Greyhounds are rapidly turning into a second-half football team.
A week after rallying for two late scores at home to knock off Marked Tree, the Hounds traveled the long road to Woodlawn Sept. 17 and pulled the same trick on the homestanding Bears, turning a fourth-quarter deficit into a tight 22-19 win in non-conference action.
Clinging to a narrow 1-point lead to start the last frame, Salem (2-1) got a big play on the defensive-side of the ball on Woodlawn's (0-3) first offensive series of the fourth.
Knocking on the Hounds' door with a first-and-goal from the Salem 5, Woodlawn quarterback Drew Spakes was picked off in the end zone by Dusty York to prevent a certain Bear touchdown at the 8:36 mark.
York ran the football back to the Salem 45, but the Greyhounds were feeling charitable as well, fumbling the ball back to Woodlawn six plays later at their own 30-yard line.
Not wasting this opportunity, the Bears got an 8-yard TD run from fullback Tanner Hartsfield at the 4:35 point to jump in front 19-14.
Just as they did against the Indians of Marked Tree one week earlier, the Greyhounds bounced back from a potentially crippling miscue by answering with points of their own.
Woodlawn tried to squib the ensuing kickoff, but Phillip Taylor (175 yards rushing) ran the ball all the way into Bear territory, setting the Hounds up at Woodlawn's 44-yard line with 4:25 left in the game.
Salem got a huge catch from Mike Innis three plays later, as quarterback Chad Willett (85 yards passing) found him at the 5-yard line for a 39-yard reception.
Fullback Lynn Harber (59 rushing yards) plunged into the end zone one snap later to put Salem back on top by a single point. Looking to make it a 3-point game, Taylor ran in the all-important 2-point conversion to make it Salem 22, Woodlawn 19 with a just a few ticks over three minutes left to play.
Coming off losses to always-tough powers Magnet Cove and Horatio by a combined four points in their first two games of the season, Woodlawn wanted to make sure they got off to a good start against Salem, and they did.
Using a pair of fourth-down conversions, and running out of a Dead-T set on their first series on offense to start the game, the Bears hit paydirt at the 5:35 point of the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
The Hounds found the end zone for the first time in the second quarter on a 10-play, 78-yard scoring drive aided by a couple of costly penalties on the Bears.
With a first-and-10, thanks to a late hit on Willett, from the Woodlawn 12, Taylor reeled in a pass in the flats and romped in for Salem's first TD of the game with 4:15 left before the half. John Arrington's PAT was blocked, leaving the Bears ahead 7-6.
The Bears' next drive was snuffed out as Kyle Estes caused a Woodlawn fumble that was recovered by Salem at the Bear 37.
Salem promptly returned the favor by coughing off the ball, but the teams went to intermission with Woodlawn still hanging to a 1-point advantage.
The lead switched hands at the 9:50 mark of the third, as Taylor capped off an 80-yard Salem scoring drive with an 18-yard scamper that struck gold. The Hounds converted the 2-point conversion as Taylor pitched the ball to Willett and he did the rest, making the tally 14-7, Salem.
The Bears didn't stay down long as they used an interception of Willett to get back on track.
With the ball at Salem's 32 thanks to the pick, Hartsfield crossed the goal line five plays later for Woodlawn's second TD of the evening. Taylor got his hands on the extra-point attempt to block it, but Woodlawn had moved within a point, down 14-13.
Showing resolve that should prove important when they dive back into 3AA play, the Greyhounds weathered the Woodlawn storm in the final 12 minutes of play to emerge with a 3-point victory, making the long drive back from Cleveland County an enjoyable one.