The road can be a tough place for a team to look for their first win of the season. It can be even tougher when that team starts the conference season with a loss.
Such was the case for the Salem Greyhounds as they hit the road Sept. 20 and traveled to Parkin to take on the speedy Tigers.
A field soaked by a day of heavy rain helped to nullify the Tiger's speed, and a strong Salem defense took care of the rest in a 7-6 Greyhound victory.
The Greyhounds, coming off a 20-6 loss to Marked Tree last week, were catching a hot Parkin team that thrashed Turrell 46-12 to open conference play last week.
The Greyhound defense flexed its muscles midway into the first quarter as senior defensive back Brian Holcomb popped the ball loose from the Tigers and picked it up for Salem.
The Greyhounds pounded the ball into the middle of the Parkin defense with senior Jamie Sisk (10 carries for 38 yards) for little result.
"We're not trying to do anything different on offense than we've been doing in the past," said Greyhound Head Coach Bob Grass. "We're still trying to find our strengths on offense."
Neither team seemed interested in holding onto the ball in the second quarter as junior defensive back Jake Bontrager picked off a Parkin pass attempt at the 5:30 mark.
This led to a back-and-forth swapping of the ball as the Greyhounds fumbled the football on the sloppy field on their next series from scrimmage.
Recovering the ball near midfield, the Tigers struck with a 51-yard pass to set up camp at the Salem 6-yard line with 3:42 until the half.
Junior Woody Harlow came up with a huge defensive play seconds later as he slid between the Tiger quarterback and running back, causing a bobbled handoff which he grabbed out of midair, and streaked back upfield before being forced out-of-bounds at the Salem 40-yard line.
Harlow led the Greyhounds with 10 tackles from his linebacker slot.
The Greyhounds tried to turn Harlow's big play into a score behind the running of senior tailback Duane Slagley.
Slagley (20 carries, 54 yards) led Salem to the Parkin 17-yard line with 31 seconds on the clock.
The Greyhounds failed to capitalize on this opportunity and the teams went to the half deadlocked at 0.
"Their speed kind of kept us from executing our game plan the way we had it worked out," said Grass.
A good defensive stand in the third quarter led to the lone Greyhound score of the evening.
Backed up on their own 20-yard line with a first-and-10, the Greyhounds seized the chance to hold the Tigers deep in their own territory.
The Salem defensive line shoved the Tigers back, causing tailback Demario Gulyard to fumble the ball all the way back to the Parkin 7-yard line.
On fourth-and-24, the Tigers barely avoided a safety and the Greyhounds took over at the Parkin 10-yard line at the 6:27 mark.
Three carries by Jamie Sisk put the ball inside the 1-yard line and senior quarterback Luke Barker did the rest, taking the ball on a quarterback keeper for the TD at the 5:00 mark. The PAT gave Salem a 7-0 lead.
That score carried into the last quarter as Salem stretched its defensive shutout streak to five consecutive quarters, going back to the second half of the Marked Tree game.
To make sure the streak stayed alive, senior linebacker Morgan Mills (nine tackles) jarred the ball loose from Gulyard and recovered it for Salem with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
Not to be outdone, Brian Holcomb added an interception to his seven tackles at the 10:13 mark of the final quarter.
For the night, the Greyhounds were +5 in turnover margin.
The next time the Tigers got their hands on the ball, at the 8:03 point, they had good field position at their own 47-yard line.
An incomplete pass on third down set up fourth-and-4 for Parkin.
The Greyhound shutout came to an end as Gulyard danced around a couple of Salem defenders in the backfield and ran for a 59-yard TD with 6:44 left in the game.
Wet conditions led to Parkin not having much faith in their kicking game, so the Tigers went for the two-point conversion to take the lead.
This attempt failed as Kyle Moss, Brandon Corsaut and Morgan Mills stacked up the Tiger ball carrier at the goal line to keep Salem in front at 7-6.
One last defensive stand by the Greyhounds made that score final as Mills collected an interception at the 58-second mark to end the Tiger threat.
"Its not exactly the way we would have scripted it, but a win's a win," said Grass.
The Greyhounds continue conference play with a home game against the Turrell Rockets Sept. 27.