SALEM 21, WALNUT RIDGE 38
A common thread running through the Salem Greyhounds' first five games of the 2005 season were the words "too many." As in, too many turnovers. Too many penalties. Too many lapses in concentration. Too many mistakes.
The Hounds fixed these problems last week and scored too many touchdowns for Piggott to contend with, as Salem blasted the Mohawks 48-0 on the road for their first win of the year.
As the Greyhounds looked to make it back-to-back wins by hosting the Walnut Ridge Bobcats Oct. 7 for Homecoming 2005, those two words, too many, were back on the wrong side of the ledger for Salem.
This time it was too many rushing yards for Walnut Ridge's Adam Hufstedler. Hufstedler carried the ball 25 times for 165 yards, as the Bobcats spoiled Salem's big night by besting the Greyhounds 38-21 in 3AA Conference action.
Salem (1-5, 1-2 3AA) came out inspired and drove the football 61 yards in nine plays for a TD on its first series of the game. A big 45-yard run by Zack Harber (87 yards rushing) jump started the march downfield, and quarterback Chad Willett finished off the deal with a 5-yard run on fourth-and-goal at the 9:09 mark of the first to give Salem's its sole lead of the evening. Ian Williams' PAT was no good, but the Greyhounds were up 6-0.
Walnut Ridge (2-3-1, 2-2 3AA) wasted little time in finding the scoreboard as it fashioned an 11-play, 64-yard touchdown drive that nearly mirrored Salem's first offensive series.
Hufstedler scored the first of his three touchdowns on the night with a 1-yard plunge at the 4:53 point of the first. The extra-point gave the Bobcats a 7-6 lead, a lead they would not give back.
The Bobcats added to their lead with an 80-yard scoring drive that began near the end of the second quarter. This drive was aided by a couple of costly penalties by the Salem defense, including an off sides infraction on fourth-and-3 at the Greyhound 32-yard-line, a miscue that gave Walnut Ridge a first down to extend its march.
Bobcat quarterback Tyler Meadors (11-of-16, 113 yards passing) hit wideout Seth Chamblee with a 12-yard TD pass that came three plays into the start of the second quarter. The PAT missed its mark, but Walnut Ridge led 13-6 with 10:41 left in the half.
Not letting up, Walnut Ridge scored its third touchdown in three possessions with a 16-yard score from Hufstedler at the 6:14 mark of the second. A successful point-after boosted the Bobcats' advantage to 20-6.
It looked as though Salem had gained a dash of momentum after forcing the Bobcats to punt late in the second, holding Walnut Ridge to a three-and-out series for the first time on the game.
However, Jeff Nelson, in to quarterback a series for the Greyhounds, was wrapped up and spun around by a Bobcat defender. Still in the grasp, Nelson threw a pass that was picked off by Walnut Ridge's Dillion McEntire. McEntire then ran the ball 24 yards to the end zone to push the Bobcats on top 26-6.
With a shade over three minutes until the half, the Greyhound offense began to click. Moving the ball 68 yards on four passes, Salem hit paydirt as Willett (14-of-31, 143 yards passing) hooked up with Nelson (56 yards receiving) on a 34-yard TD pass at the 2:07 mark. Williams' PAT moved Salem closer, down 26-13 at the half.
Walnut Ridge logged the only points of the third on a quarterback keeper by Meadors at the 4:22 mark of the third, stretching the Bobcats' lead to 32-13 heading into the final quarter of play.
Hufstedler made it 38-13 early in the fourth with his third score of the evening, this one coming on a 26-yard carry up the middle of the field. The extra-point attempt was wide, but Walnut Ridge had amassed a 38-13 advantage at that point.
Salem did manage one last touchdown of the night with a drive that started at its own 15-yard line.
Aided by two huge Walnut Ridge penalties, pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct, the Hounds went 85 yards in four plays.
Harber ran the ball in from 13 yards out at the 9:48 mark to give Salem hopes of a comeback. Willett tossed a pass to Wes James, who was dealt a bone-jarring hit but still managed to inch across the goal line for the 2-point conversion to make the score 38-21, Walnut Ridge.
The Hounds' bid for a come-from-behind win ended when Willett was picked off by Chamblee with three minutes left in the game, as Walnut Ridge headed back to Lawrence County with a 17-point victory in tow.