SALEM 6, CROSS COUNTY 42
In order to stop the Cross County T-Birds' potent rushing attack from being successful, speedy tailback Kendole Boykins has to be held in check.
The first six teams to face Cross County had tried that tactic, and yet the T-Birds had run to a 4-2 overall record, and were locked in a three-way tie for the top spot in the 3AA Conference with a 4-1 mark heading into week eight of the 2005 football season.
The Salem Greyhounds fared about as well at stopping Boykins as the first six teams on Cross County's schedule had, as Boykins cut loose for 184 yards rushing on nine carries, scoring four touchdowns, three on offense, one on defense, as the T-Birds knocked off the Hounds 42-6 Oct. 21 in Cherry Valley.
Salem (2-6, 2-4) found out just how quickly Boykins and the T-Birds could strike, as Cross County lit the scoreboard 35 seconds into the game.
After taking the opening kick at their own 25, Salem looked sharp briefly on their first offensive series, with Zack Harber breaking off a 32-yard run that took the ball near midfield.
However, the ball was punched loose from Harber's grasp and went straight in the air. Boykins, playing on defense, snatched the football and ran it 50 yards for a TD at the 11:25 mark of the first to get Cross County going. The point-after gave the T-Birds a fast 7-0 lead.
A big burden in the Hounds' efforts to best the T-Birds would be starting field position. Salem was tagged with the chore of moving the ball 70 yards or better for points, while Cross County enjoyed a short field all evening.
The T-Birds' next score of the first period came after they took the ball back on Salem's side of the field after a punt.
Brian Hopkins found the end zone for the T-Birds from 23 yards out a couple of plays later. The PAT was wide of the mark, but Cross County held serve 13-0 with 3:43 left in the first.
Just over two minutes later, the T-Birds had struck again.
Boykins posted his first TD on the offensive side of the football with a 42-yard touchdown scamper with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter. Cross County quarterback Dylan Karnes ran the 2-point conversion in to boost the T-Birds' advantage to 21-0 after one quarter of play.
Cross County, whose only losses of the year have been to East Poinsett County and Harrisburg, tacked on another Boykins score just inside the start to the second quarter.
On the T-Birds' first snap on offense of the second, Boykins sprang free for a 65-yard touchdown at the 10:58 mark of the frame. The PAT pushed Cross County on top 28-0.
It looked as though Cross County would tally more points on its next offensive series, but the Salem defense rose to the occasion to keep the T-Birds temporarilly out of the end zone.
Deep in Hounds' territory, Trevor Stafford jarred the ball loose from Hopkins and Dusty York recovered the ball at the Salem 9-yard line to snuff out a sure T-Bird touchdown.
This was only a slight delay for Cross County, as it did hit the jackpot once more before intermission.
After the T-Birds got the ball back from Salem on a punt, Boykins landed in the end zone once more, this time on a 34-yard run that came with 29 ticks left until the half. The PAT gave Cross County a 35-0 shutout after two quarters of play.
The Hounds finally pieced together a scoring drive on their first series of the third quarter.
Taking the ball near midfield, Salem headed to the end zone after getting a couple of nice catches from York and Stafford.
Quarterback Chad Willett hooked up with York on a fourth-and-5 pass that was tipped, falling into York's waiting hands for a first down at the T-Bird 35-yard line. Stafford then snagged a Willett toss for a 19-yard gain that took the ball to the 1-yard line a couple of plays later.
Harber closed the book on this scoring march by plunging into the end zone on second-and-goal at the 1:18 point of the third. The 2-point conversion was denied, but Salem did have its first points of the night, although the Greyhounds trailed 35-6 after three.
It looked like the Hounds might pierce the goal line once more, as Salem took the ball to the Cross County 21-yard line midway into the fourth.
Not only did Salem not score on this drive, Cross County did, as Willett was picked off by Hopkins in the end zone on a second-and-10 play.
Instead of dropping down for a touchback in the end zone, Hopkins ran the ball back 102 yards for a touchdown. The ensuing PAT rounded out Cross County's 36-point victory over Salem.