SALEM 0, YELLVILLE-SUMMIT 36
The difference between the Salem Greyhounds and Yellville-Summit Panthers was paper-thin on Sept. 28.
Both football squads are fairly young, with a number of sophomores playing key roles on both sides of the pigskin for both squads.
Heading into their 2-3A clash at Panther Stadium in week five, both teams had given up a touch over 35 points a game during the first four weeks of the season, while on offense, each team had been putting up about eight points per game during that same stretch.
Oh, and each team was really hungry for a win, as both Salem and Yellville-Summit had yet to taste victory in 2007.
On this night, the deciding factor in a contest between two such similar teams may have been the fact that it was homecoming for Yellville-Summit, as the Panthers put together their most inspired outing of the season, blanking the Greyhounds 36-0.
While the emotion of homecoming no doubt was big for Yellville-Summit (1-4, 1-1), so too was the Panthers' defense. Yellville-Summit held Salem (0-5, 0-2) to just four first downs, and less than 100 yards of total offense, in the game.
Things were close the first 12 minutes of play, with the Panthers leading by a touchdown, 7-0, after the first quarter.
Then came the second, a quarter in which Yellville-Summit posted 23 unanswered points to grab control for good.
Justin Kelley got Yellville-Summit off to a fast start by tossing off a big 78-yard run the first time the Panthers touched the ball in the game. Tyler Sanders then scored Yellville-Summit's first touchdown of the game one snap later, running in from four yards out. The extra-point gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
It looked like that would not be the only points Yellville-Summit would score in the first.
Backed deep on its side of the field on Salem's nest series, the Hounds were forced to punt on fourth down. Bad things happened when the snap sailed over punter Jason Huff's head and he was wrestled down at the Greyhound 11-yard line, giving Yellville-Summit a certain shot at more points.
But the Greyhound defense would have none of that.
Kyle Berry and Kevin Fowler teamed up to stuff the run on second down, and then Panther quarterback Tim Hoyt fell down on third down, giving Yellville-Summit a fourth-and-13 from the Salem 14.
Yellville-Summit tried to kick a field goal, but Hoyt's kick was blocked, ending the Panthers' threat.
As it was, this setback was only temporary for the Panthers.
Early in the second quarter, Hoyt hit wideout Weston Vickers with a 40-yard pass that moved the football deep into Greyhound turf.
A couple of plays later, Arthur Garroutte pushed his way across the goal line from five yards out for his first score of the night. Vickers hit Kelley with the 2-point pass to give the Panthers a 15-0 lead.
After the Panthers stopped Salem's next series, Yellville-Summit went to work in search of more points.
The Panthers' search ended when Vickers tossed an 11-yard TD pass to Sanders at the 4:45 mark of the second. Hoyt's PAT gave Yellville-Summit a 22-0 lead.
Salem's next offensive series came to a halt when quarterback Adam Montgomery was picked off by Vickers with 3:35 remaining until intermission.
The Panthers ate up most of those three-plus minutes with a drive that took the football close to the Greyhound goal line.
But once again, the Greyhound defense stood its ground, as Evin Cochran slammed into Sanders and knocked the ball loose, with Salem recovering at its own 1-yard line.
Pinned deep, things didn't end so great for the Hounds, as Yellville-Summit racked up a safety with a shade over a minute left in the half.
After Salem's free kick, Garroutte put the wraps on the first half by crashing in from five yards out with five ticks showing on the clock, giving Yellville-Summit a 30-0 advantage at the half.
Garroutte found the end zone one more time in the game, from 11 yards out with 3:52 left in the third, to give the Panthers a 36-0 victory, their first on the year.
The Greyhounds will look to break through into the win column when they play host to the Rose Bud Ramblers Oct. 5.