Highland fullback and former Salem Greyhound Scott Gatewood made a triumphant return to his old stomping grounds by rushing for three touchdowns and a 2-point conversion to propel the junior Rebels to a 36-8 victory in the season opener on Aug. 30 in Salem.
Junior Rebel tailback Brad Harris opened the game with a 10-yard touchdown run on Highland's opening drive that used six plays and covered 54 yards.
Salem caught the junior Reb defense off guard when running back Matt Stevens found Adam Beard on a short pass that Beard took 57 yards for the junior Greyhounds' only score of the evening. Quarterback Rocky Smith added the 2-point conversion on a keeper, and Salem took an 8-6 first-quarter lead.
"We let them have a quick touchdown and a 2-point conversion, but we learned from that and really got after them after that," said Highland Junior Rebel Head Coach Spencer Hill. "That's the key to defense. You make a mistake and you learn from it."
The junior Rebel offense answered quickly when Gatewood scampered 56 yards for a second Highland touchdown. Once again, the offense was unable to add the conversion points.
Salem was forced to punt on its next possession, and Harris took the first junior Rebel play 60 yards for his second touchdown. Gatewood added the 2-point conversion to put the junior Rebs up 20-8.
From his linebacker position, Gatewood intercepted a Smith pass and returned it to the Salem 6-yard line. Four plays later, he finished it off with a 10-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Will Edmondson hit tight end Jake Horton for the 2-point conversion.
Highland's first drive in the second half went 57 yards in eight plays, concluding with a Gatewood 14-yard touchdown run.
"Defense, hey, just a few plays, a few plays cost us," said Salem Junior Greyhound Head Coach Cody Curtis. "We've got to keep our heads up. We've got a good bunch of guys. They get after it and they played hard out here and I'm proud of them."
To echo the coach's comments, the Salem defense rose to the occasion late in the game. But the junior Rebs would also do the same.
Highland made up for a fumble recovery by Salem's Matt Stevens when Rebel cornerback Charlie McCormick intercepted a Smith pass at the Salem 20-yard line.
Rebel running back H.D. Bobo moved the ball within inches of a first down at the 10-yard line. Then Slade Williams moved the ball to the 6 yard line and a new set of downs.
The Salem defense dropped quarterback Garrett Sublett at the 13, and then pushed Bobo back to the 15.
Highland fullback Jason Long got back six of those lost yards, but the junior Hound defense stopped Bobo a yard short of a touchdown.
Salem took over on downs, but it had to navigate from its own end zone. A failed snap turned into a Rebel safety and completed the scoring for the night.
Gatewood finished with 117 yards on six carries. Harris and Alex Markway also had six carries for 92 and 41 yards, respectively.