And the road goes on forever. Or so it seems.
After making the long trip south of Pine Bluff to take on Woodlawn last week, the Salem Greyhounds had their traveling shoes on again Sept. 24 as they headed to McCrory to do battle with the Hampton Bulldogs.
Since McCrory is not fielding a football team this season, Salem and Hampton agreed to split the distance between the two schools, choosing McCrory as a neutral field site and giving the folks in Woodruff County a chance to see some Friday night football.
The one thing the two squads didn't split was the outcome of the game, as the Hounds put together their third straight strong effort of the season to knock off the Bulldogs 21-12 in non-conference play.
"It's great anytime we can beat somebody on the road," said Greyhound Head Coach Wayne Guiltner. "But three wins in a row has our kids thinking we can beat anyone, and they should believe that."
The tide turned in Salem's (3-1, 1-0 in 3AA play) favor during a 40-second span right before the half.
Trailing Hampton 6-0, the Hounds logged a couple of quick scores that put matters squarely on their side for the rest of the night.
On their first possession of the second period, Salem cashed in on an 11-play, 70-yard drive. Marching to the Bulldogs' 29, the Greyhounds were faced with a third-and-4 when Phillip Taylor hit paydirt.
Taking advantage of a nice hole opened by Lonny Brown and Thomas Cooper, Taylor romped 29 yards up the middle of the field on a counter play to post Salem's first points of the evening at the 2:18 mark. John Arrington booted the PAT to give the Hounds a 7-6 lead.
As it turned out, Taylor was just getting warmed up.
On Hampton's first play from scrimmage on their next offensive series, Taylor picked off Bulldog quarterback Nick Grice and ran the ball back 40 yards to set Salem up with good field position with 1:52 left until the half.
Since he got the ball back for Salem, it was only fitting Taylor was involved in the Greyhounds next TD as well.
Taking a pitch from Salem quarterback Chad Willett, Taylor rolled out and hit Kyle Estes with a 23-yard touchdown pass off the flanker option at the 1:32 mark. Arrington's extra-point made it Salem 14, Hampton 6 at the half, as the Hounds worked 40 seconds of magic into a lead they would not relinquish.
After a scoreless third quarter, Hampton drove deep into Salem territory on their first possession of the fourth.
With a third-and-4 from the Salem 29, Cooper and Arrington converged on Grice, knocking the ball loose. Estes recovered the fumble to snuff out a potential Bulldog score.
"Our defense is playing really well," Guiltner said. "We've been holding people to under 20 points a game. That should give us a boost of confidence as we get back to conference games."
The Greyhounds couldn't add to their margin on that possession, but they did post a final TD on the night with 1:44 left in the game.
Willett scrambled around and found Estes for a 22-yard touchdown strike on second down. Arrington's third PAT made it 21-6, Salem.
The Bulldogs refused to go quietly, as they added to their final score with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Grice with 5 ticks left in the game. The PAT was wide of the mark, setting the final score of 21-12, Salem.
Hampton posted its first score of the game at the 3:37 mark of the first quarter, a score set up by an interception of Willett by Bulldog defensive back Hootter Moser.
After three plays for no gain, Grice hit wideout Jordan Gorman for a 45-yard touchdown that lit the scoreboard for the first time on the night. The extra-point was no good, giving Hampton a 6-0 lead that Salem erased in the second quarter.