SALEM 8, SMACKOVER 38
The Salem Greyhounds have had little time to unpack their bags so far on the 2005 football season, as the Hounds have been saddled with road games three out of the first four weeks of the season.
Not just simple road contests. It seems like Salem has taken a personal tour of the Class AA top 10 during that time frame.
After suffering a setback at eighth-ranked Marked Tree in week two, the Greyhounds headed to Estes Stadium on the University of Central Arkansas campus Sept. 23 for a clash with the Smackover Buckaroos, currnetly ranked number five at the AA level.
A recurring theme for Salem to this point of the year has been untimely turnovers coupled with a sluggish offense. Both of these played big parts in the Hounds' 38-8 loss to Smackover.
The Buckaroos have been a potent bunch on the offensive side of the football this season, and that trend continued as Smackover found the end zone three times before the first quarter had ended, a quarter in which the Buckaroos grabbed a 19-0 lead.
The second quarter started with a bit of promise for the Hounds, as Derek Estes intercepted a Smackover pass at the 11:02 mark of the quarter, setting up the Greyhounds with good field position at the Buckaroo 44-yard line.
However, this chance for Salem went south as Greyhound quarterback Chad Willett was picked off to end Salem's scoring opportunity. For the night, the Greyhounds gave up four interceptions and a fumble, and were limited to just four first downs in the first half of play, the first coming at the 8:26 point of the second quarter.
It took just one play for Smackover to post another TD after the Salem miscue. A 64-yard run at the 9:40 mark of the second quarter was the Buckaroos' fourth score of the first half. The PAT made the score 28-0, Smackover.
On Salem's next offensive possession, Dustin Vaughn reeled in an 8-yard pass from Willett that was good for the Hounds' first third-down conversion in the first half of play.
Wes James also took a bomb from Willett and made it to the Buckaroo 46-yard line before misfortune reared its ugly head again for Salem.
Willett looked to toss the ball deep, but Smackover picked off the attempt and 90 yards later the score stood at 32-0, Buckaroos.
As if Salem needed any more bad luck, 59 seconds later the Buckaroos converted another interception into points with 5:07 left until intermission.
The Greyhounds did manage to get the ball back to the Smackover 39-yard line on their last series before intermission, but the clock ran out on the first half of play with Salem in a huge 38-0 hole.
Smackover had ideas of more points on Salem's first series of the third quarter, as another Greyhound miscue allowed the Buckaroos to move the ball to the Hound 9-yard line. Smackover got the ball as far as the 1 before Salem's defensive front eventually kept the Buckaroos out of the end zone.
With the score still at 38-0 at the start of the fourth, the Hounds finally found paydirt with a drive that started in the waning minutes of the third.
Greyhound backup quarterback Jeff Nelson hit Vaughn with a 10-yard touchdown pass on first-and-goal at the 9:48 point of the final frame. Nelson then ran in the 2-point conversion to give Salem eight points.
The Greyhounds tried an on-sides kick to get the ball back, but Smackover recovered. The Greyhound defense stiffened once again, and forced the Buckaroos to punt.
On their final drive of the night, the Greyhounds got the ball to the Smackover 26, but Nelson was picked off to end the Salem threat and seal the Buckaroos' 38-8 victory.