SALEM 34, ROSE?BUD 27
Through the first five weeks of the 2007 football season, the Salem Greyhounds had learned more things than could be crammed inside a phone-book sized text book.
They had learned that injuries to key players in week one can really hurt a team's chances at success.
They had learned that it takes a while for a team loaded with sophomores and juniors a while to gel.
They had learned that it was no fun to lose their last two games by a combined score of 84-0.
The only things the young Hounds had not learned during the first five weeks of the 2007 football season was what it felt like to celebrate a victory.
But now they know.
Playing their most inspired football so far this year, the Greyhounds proved capable of playing from behind, as they erased a two-touchdown deficit and scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to knock off the Rose Bud Ramblers 34-27 Oct. 5 on 2-3A action on homecoming night.
The Greyhounds' first win of the season was certainly not an easy one, and took a huge play late in the game to tip the scales in favor of Salem.
Salem (1-5, 1-2), trailing Rose Bud (1-5, 0-3) 27-12 after three quarters of play, started its three-TD barrage in the fourth thanks to a 15-yard touchdown from Blake Hurst at the 8:41 mark of the frame. Skylar Jones, lining up mostly at wideout or flanker instead of quarterback against the Ramblers, carried the 2-point conversion in to pull the Greyhounds within seven, down 27-20.
On Rose Bud's next possession, the Greyhound defense sunk its teeth into the Ramblers, with Dylan Smith hitting Rose Bud quarterback Zeb Prothro so hard the ball squirted loose. Ty Berry fell on the football for Salem on the Ramblers' side of the field.
The Greyhounds got down to the Rose Bud 31-yard line before returning the favor, as a fumble stalled Salem's drive.
However, the dueling miscues continued as Matt Merritt coughed up the football at the Salem 12-yard line with 3:37 left in the game.
Pinned deep in their own territory at the start of Salem's next possession, the Greyhounds found themselves with even more green in front of them as a penalty for having too many players on the field shoved Salem from its own 12 back to the 5-yard line.
Turns out that was no big deal.
On third-and-15 from the 5, Greyhound quarterback Adam Montgomery let fly with a pass that Jason Huff snared at the Salem 18-yard line. Turning on the afterburners, Huff jetted all the way into the end zone for an amazing 95-yard touchdown that came with 2:54 left in the game. Huff then kicked the PAT to knot the game at 27-all.
Huff's big-time run had an inspiring effect on the Salem defense.
Rose Bud had the ball at its own 32 on second down when Smith and T.W. Langevin had a running-for-his-life Prothro squarely in their sights. Instead of taking a sack, Prothro threw the ball away, but was called for intention grounding.
On fourth-and-25 from their 15, the Ramblers punted, giving the ball back to Salem with a shade over two minutes left on the clock.
First Montgomery hit Kevin Fowler for a nice 17-yard gain before delivering the game-winning toss.
On second-and-20 from the Rambler 41, Montgomery hooked up with Ty Berry for a 41-yard TD pass that pushed the Hounds over the top. Huff kicked the extra-point, and with 1:06 left, Salem led 34-27.
Colin Young made sure this lead held, as he picked off Prothro with 33 ticks left to seal the Hounds' seven-point, come from behind victory.
As it was, Salem would trail for much of the game, with Rose Bud striking first, thanks in part to a busted play.
With the ball at the Salem 41 in the first quarter, a shotgun snap went over Prothro's head. Merritt grabbed the bounding ball and ripped off a 27-yard run down the right sideline, moving the ball to the Greyhound 14.
One snap later, Rose Bud had its first TD of the game. The PAT gave the Ramblers a 7-0 lead with 4:26 left in the first.
Rose Bud tacked on another score in the first quarter, as Prothro threw a touchdown pass out of the Ramblers' double-wing set, hitting J.D. Felice with a 7-yard strike on second-and-goal with 1:01 left to play in the first. The extra-point try was no good, but Rose Bud led 13-0 after one.
Salem answered with a 60-yard, nine-play drive early in the second quarter.
Montgomery capped this scoring march with his first TD pass of the night, an 18-yarder to Huff at the 7:19 mark. The PAT was blocked, leaving Rose Bud in front 13-6.
The Ramblers took a 19-6 lead into the half, thanks to a 3-yard touchdown run from Jon Alexander that came with 3:56 left in the second.
Salem managed to keep close to Rose Bud in the third, using a big play on defense to get things rolling.
Smith smacked Merritt near midfield on Rose Bud's first offensive series, causing the running back to cough up the ball.
Salem turned this good fortune into points, as Jones ripped off a nifty 15-yard run on Salem's next possession, with Young reeling in a 21-yard pass from Montgomery that gave the Hounds first-and-goal at the Rose Bud 5.
One play later, Hurst slammed his way into the end zone for Salem. The point-after was wide of its mark, leaving Rose Bud in control of a 19-12 game.
The Ramblers' margin grew with 1:32 left in the frame as Prothro ducked across the goal line from a yard out for Rose Bud's lone TD of the third. The 2-point conversion extended Rose Bud's lead to 27-12 after three.
Down by 15 points heading into the final 12 minutes of play, the Greyhounds still managed to give the homecoming crowd plenty to cheer about, as Salem churned out 22 straight points for its biggest point total of the year, and a 34-27 win over the Ramblers.