Greyhound defense gets top billing in win over Mohawks
While their 2004 homecoming theme was based on Hollywood, the Salem Greyhounds' tilt with the Piggott Mohawks didn't involve a whole lot of drama, as the Hounds welcomed Piggott to the 3AA Conference with a 20-7 defeat.
Although the game might not have kept Salem's fans on the edge of their seats like a multi-million dollar blockbuster would, the Greyhound defense certainly looked like it came straight out of a Tinsel Town script in the Oct. 1 meeting between Salem and the former Class AAA team from Piggott, entering their first year in Class AA.
On top 13-7 entering the fourth quarter, Salem (4-1, 2-0) got a trio of big plays on the defensive side of the football in the game's last 12 minutes of play to keep the Mohawks from spoiling homecoming night.
With the ball on Salem's side of the field to start the fourth, Piggott marched down to the Greyhound 6-yard line in eight plays.
Faced with a fourth-and-4 from the Hound 6, the Mohawks skipped a field goal attempt and went for a touchdown.
Salem's defense was up for the challenge, stopping Piggott short of a TD, and short of a first down as well.
"We had to stop them from scoring a couple of times when they got deep on us, and we did," said Greyhound Head Coach Wayne Guiltner. "That down when they were on our 6-yard line was probably the biggest down we've been faced with this year, and we held."
The Hounds didn't keep the ball long on their next possession and Chad Willett was forced to punt the ball back to the Mohawks out of Salem's own end zone.
With good field position once again, Piggott was poised to score when the Greyhound defense jumped to the rescue for the second time in the quarter.
This time it was the Salem secondary, as Willett picked off the Piggott quarterback and rambled 35 yard upfield, to Midfield.
The Hounds cashed this turnover into points, thanks to fullback Lynn Harber.
First, Harber broke loose for a 24-yard run down to the Mohawk 25. One play later, he took a handoff from Willett and gashed the Piggott defense with a 25-yard touchdown run right through the middle of the Mohawks' guts. John Arrington booted the PAT to stake the Hounds to a comfortable 20-7 advantage with 4:51 left to play.
The Greyhound defense wasn't through with center stage, however.
On Piggott's next offensive series, the Mohawks drove to the Salem 31-yard line, where they were looking at a fourth-and-6 after two incomplete passes.
Piggott's next pass attempt was for naught as well, as Salem's defense held on fourth down for the second time in the last quarter to preserve their 13-point victory.
"The guys played great on defense," Guiltner said.
Piggott had jumped in front early, intercepting Willett on Salem's first offensive series of the game, and hitting paydirt on a 76-yard TD run with 2:16 remaining in the first quarter. The extra point was good, giving the Mohawks a 7-zip lead.
It didn't take Salem long to respond, as they put together an 11-play, 63-yard scoring drive midway into the second quarter.
Forsaking a field goal try on fourth-and-8 from Piggott's 13, Willett broke containment and hit Phillip Taylor on a 13-yard TD pass at the 8:48 mark. Arrington's PAT made it 7-all, which was the score at the half.
The Greyhounds cracked open the tie game late in the third thanks in part to a fine play on special teams.
On fourth-and-8 from their own 42, the Mohawks were forced to punt.
Wes James found a crack in the Piggott line and flew through to block the punt, giving the Hounds the ball at the Mohawk 11.
Taylor did the rest, taking a pitch from Willett and scrambling 6 yards into the end zone to put Salem on top. The PAT was wide of the mark, but the Greyhounds had the momentum and the score on their side, as they held on to defeat the Mohawks.
"That punt block was huge," Guiltner said. "We usually block several punts, but that was our first this year. That should give us some confidence on special teams."