SALEM 0, PERRYVILLE 49
As they opened 2-3A Conference play Sept. 21 by hosting the Perryville Mustangs, the Salem Greyhounds were hoping to avoid the same pitfalls that had plagued them during their three non-conference losses to open the 2007 -- namely costly turnovers and letting their opponents jump out in front early, forcing the Hounds to play catch-me-if-you-can.
And while Salem did manage to win the turnover battle with the Mustangs, losing three compared to four on Perryville's part, the Hounds did let the Mustangs jump in front early, as Perryville (4-0, 1-0) shut out Salem (0-4, 0-1) 49-0 at Greyhound Stadium.
On this night, Salem just had no counter for Perryville's speedy backfield of Landon Jones and Tyler Blackmon. Jones scored three touchdowns for the game, while Blackmon added two more, as the two firebrands managed to get around the corner of Salem's defense for big chunks of yardage at a time.
Not helping things one bit for the Hounds was the fact that one week after it had six banged-up starters missing against Southside, Salem was still battling the injury bug against Perryville, and that fact came through especially on the line of scrimmage, as quarterback Skylar Jones was forced to throw on the run for most of the evening, not getting a chance to set his feet while trying to avoid intense pressure from the Mustangs.
There was not much of a flow on either side of the game do to a rash of penalties, ranging all the way from a sideline violation on Perryville to intention grounding, false starts and personal fouls, with flags thrown seemingly on every other snap of the ball, gumming up any kind of rhythm the teams could muster.
Despite not being at full running speed because of injuries, the Greyhound defense still looked sharp on Perryville's first offensive series of the game, as Kyle Berry picked off Mustang quarterback Greg Stivers on Salem's side of the field.
The Greyhound offense also found the going tough on its first possession of the night and was forced to punt on fourth-and-10 from the Perryville 47.
It was Perryville that found the scoreboard first, stitching together a long drive late in the first.
After a booming punt from Jason Huff pinned Perryville all the way back at its own 11-yard line, the Mustangs went to work, marching 89 yards in six plays.
Blackmon scampered across the end zone from 12 yards out to get the scoring started for Perryville. Jones carried the 2-point conversion in to give the Mustangs an 8-0 lead with 1:34 left in the first quarter.
Salem fumbled the ball away to Perryville at the Greyhound 21 just before the end of the quarter, setting up the Mustangs' next score three plays into the second.
On first-and-goal from the 10, Jones took a pitch from Stivers and fired a TD pass to Blake Glenn. Blackmon's 2-point carry gave Perryville a 16-0 lead at the 11:09 mark of the second.
On Perryville's next series, it looked like the Mustangs had tacked on another touchdown to their lead when Blackmon busted free for a 29-yard touchdown run. However, a holding call nullified the score, giving the Salem defense a second wind.
Taking advantage of this, Kevin Fowler got his hand on a Stivers pass two plays later, knocking it straight into the air, straight into the waiting hands of teammate Ty Berry deep in Greyhound turf.
Things didn't end up so positive for the Hounds after Berry's takeaway.
An offsides penalty on Salem pushed the Hounds all the way back to their 5-yard line, giving Salem a third-and-14 from the shadows of its own goal posts.
One play later, a host of Mustangs busted through and wrapped Jones up in the end zone for a safety, and an 18-0 Perryville lead.
On the Mustangs' next series from scrimmage, Blackmon came up big again, toting the ball in from 20 yards out with 3:35 left until the half. Stivers hit Glenn for the 2-point conversion to extend Perryville's margin to 26-0.
The two teams traded interceptions in the last 40 seconds of the first half, with Colin Young picking off Stivers just before intermission, sending the two sides to the half with Perryville on top by 26 points.
The Mustangs tacked on two more scores to their tally in the third, and turned the ball over once.
Perryville had moved the ball inside the Salem 20-yard line in three plays, after starting at its own 45, when the ball popped free and T.W. Langevin recovered it at the Salem 11 for the Hounds.
Salem couldn't get much positive momentum going and was forced to punt the ball away.
After Perryville got its hands on the ball after the punt, Jones struck once again, reeling off a 59-yard touchdown run for the Mustangs. Stivers hit Glenn for the 2-point try and Perryville moved in front 34-0 with 5:13 left in the third.
With a shade under two-and-a-half minutes left in the third, Perryville hit paydirt again.
Jones ran in from 10 yards out to add to the Mustangs' lead. Jones also toted the 2-point carry across to push his team on top 42-0 after three.
Perryville made it 49-0 with 41 ticks left in the game on a 4-yard TD run from Royce DeClain plus the PAT kick by Jones.
The Hounds will be looking to break through to the win column as they travel to Yellville-Summit Sept. 28 to tangle with the 0-4 Panthers.