Dealing with adversity is something the Salem Greyhounds are becoming accustomed to lately.
First, their head coach, Bob Grass, suffered an apparent heart attack Aug. 28 and was air-lifted to a hospital in Jonesboro.
Second, the Greyhounds opened the 2002-03 season with a 22-8 loss at home to the Thayer Bobcats Sept. 6.
Grass underwent a surgical procedure in Jonesboro that resulted in a stint being placed in one of his blocked arteries.
Less than a week later, on Sept. 2, Grass was back on the sidelines at practice directing his Greyhounds.
"I feel pretty good, health wise," Grass said after the Thayer game. "I'm still kind of tired, but I think I'm getting my strength back a little bit at a time."
The Greyhounds could have used some more strength on the field against the big, experienced Bobcats.
By dominating the line of scrimmage, Thayer limited the Greyhounds to 44 yards of total offense in the first half.
The Bobcats took the opening kickoff and used a steady dose of the running game behind senior Kyle Goetting to march down the field and set up shop at the Salem 20-yard line.
The eight-play drive ended with the Bobcats finding the end zone on a 20-yard pass from Tim Echman to Matt Martin at the 7:05 point of the first quarter.
The Greyhounds appeared out of snyc on their first possession of the game as they turned the ball over to Thayer on the second play from scrimmage.
"That hurt us on our first drive when we coughed up the ball," said coach Grass. "It kind of took the air out of our sails."
The Bobcat defense left the door open for the Greyhounds in the second quarter by being whistled for three offsides penalties, including two back-to-back.
The Greyhounds failed to take advantage of these penalties by putting together a long drive.
"We just couldn't get any kind of sustained drive going. They controlled the line of scrimmage," said Grass.
The Bobcats held Salem to 44 yards of total offense in the first half, all on the ground. Greyhound quarterback Luke Barker was 0-5 through the air.
With the ball in their possession and 1:45 until the half, the Bobcats offense geared up for another score.
Starting at the Greyhound 45-yard line, the Bobcats headed downfield until a screen pass to senior Paul Brewer was snuffed out for a no-gain at the Greyhound 11-yard line.
Faced with a fourth-and-one, the Bobcats opted to run a play instead of settling for a short field goal.
This worked perfectly as Matt Martin took the handoff on a reverse from his wideout slot and scrambled 11 yards for his second touchdown of the evening with 15.3 on the clock.
The Bobcat quarterback punched the ball in for a two-point conversion to put Thayer in front 15-0 at the half.
The Greyhounds came out after halftime and stuck to their game plan of running the ball.
Greyhound senior Jamie Sisk was the workhorse, as he accounted for 77 of his team's rushing yards.
A pass from Luke Barker to senior Brian Grass put the ball at the Bobcat 26-yard line midway into the third quarter.
The Bobcat defense stiffened on the next play from scrimmage as senior lineman Josh Eubank popped the ball loose from Barker as he tried to set up the option play.
This turnover set up the Bobcat's third score of the night as senior Josh Garrison rambled in fom 5 yards out to put Thayer up 22-0 after three quarters.
Garrison led the Thayer ground attack with 50 yards rushing.
The last quarter began with the Greyhounds fashioning their best-looking offensive series of the game.
A 13-play drive took the Greyhounds down to the Bobcat 23-yard line at the 8:23 mark.
An incomplete pass from Barker to senior Joey Burk on fourth-and-five stalled the drive and gave the ball back to the Bobcats deep in their own territory.
The Greyhounds finally got their first taste of the end zone with six seconds left in the game as senior Woody Harlow caught a swing pass out of the backfield and scampered 17 yards for the T.D.
Harlow took a quick-pitch from Barker across for the two-point conversion and a final score of 22-8, Thayer.
The Greyhounds finished the evening with 225 yards of total offense, 134 on the ground, while the Bobcats ended with 317 yards of offense with 126 coming on the ground.
"We lost to a good, seasoned football team," said Grass. "This should help us get ready for our conference opener against Marked Tree. They've got a quarterback with a good arm like Thayer's."
The Greyhounds host the Marked Tree Indians on Sept. 13. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
In Greyhound junior high action from Sept. 5, Salem left Marked Tree with a 38-14 defeat in the conference opener for both teams.
Chad Willett led the Greyhound rushing attack with 68 yards on 20 carries.