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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Veasley engine that makes T-Birds fly

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TURN ON THE JETS: Clint Ray turns on the burners in Salem's win over Marked Tree. The Greyhounds traveled to Cherry Valley and fell to the Cross County T-Birds 24-17 Oct. 23. Photo/Mullins
The Cross County T-Birds aren't trying to fool anyone.

Sure, quarterback Wade Halk will throw the football a few times a game, but you can bet that the majority of touches on the night are going to belong to dynamic running back Blake Veasley.

The Salem Greyhounds witnessed this up-close-and-personal Oct. 23 on homecoming night in Cherry Valley.

Veasley racked up 203 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries, helping the homestanding T-Birds to a 24-17 come-from-behind win over the Hounds.

Cross County, co-champions in 3-2A Conference play a year ago, have now won three straight games, keeping their playoff hopes alive with a 4-4 record overall, 4-3 in the conference. Salem (5-2, 4-2) with a spot in the playoffs already assured, has already won more games this season than it did in the past two combined.

And on a wet, drizzily evening in Cross County, it sure looked like the Hounds might find victory number six on the year, as Salem held a 17-6 lead at the half.

But the T-Birds outscored the Greyhounds 18-0 in the second half to rally to victory.

With a touch over six minutes left in the third quarter, Veasley leaped over a pile of Salem defenders at the 1-yard line on third-and-goal for Cross County's first TD of the second half. The 2-point conversion was stopped, leaving Salem on top 17-12.

The T-Birds tried an onsides kick, but Salem recovered the ball near midfield.

But a couple of costly penalties killed this good field position, forcing the Greyhounds to punt the football.

On Cross County's next possession, it was Veasley, Veasley and more Veasley.

And on fourth-and-goal from the 5, Veasley wrapped up the 69-yard drive with his second touchdown of the third quarter. The 2-point conversion was again stopped, but the T-Birds now held an 18-17 lead.

Salem's next series ended with a fumble and Rubin Hill recovered the football for Cross County at the Greyhound 47-yard line.

The Hounds' defense dug in and on fourth-and-4 from the 40, forced Halk to throw an incomplete pass, giving the ball back to the Greyhounds.

But Cross County's defense came up big, stopping Salem from cashing in on fourth-and-1 from near midfield on the Greyhounds' next series.

With the ball at the 50, Cross County used nine plays to score its last touchdown of the game, a 5-yard blast from Veasley on second-and-goal at the 6:06 mark of the fourth quarter.

With a 24-17 lead on their side, the T-Birds put the game away when Kyle Jones jumped on a Salem fumble at the 5:00 mark of the fourth. Cross County again turned to Veasley and the shifty running back ran out the clock on the T-Birds' win.

Cross County scored the first touchdown of the game late in the first quarter on a 9-yard TD pass from Halk to Veasley, giving the home team a 6-0 lead.

But faster than lightning, Salem pulled ahead on a huge special teams play.

Nick Gaskins took the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 76 yards for Salem's first points of the evening. Jason Huff knocked down the PAT to push the visitors in front 7-6 after one.

Early in the second quarter, Salem added to its tally with a 14-yard touchdown run from Rocky Smith. Huff's extra-point made the score 14-6, Salem.

The Hounds managed to work in more points before the halftime intermission.

Dylan Smith jarred the ball free from Veasley, giving the football back to the Hounds.

Clint Ray toted the football a couple of times, quarterback Ty Berry hit Brandon Godfrey with a 20-yard pass and then found Dustin Ray for a 12-yard strike that moved the ball to the Cross County 10-yard line with nine ticks left on the clock.

Berry ran the ball to the 5-yard line, giving the Hounds first-and-goal with one tick showing on the clock. Huff came on and drilled a field goal as time expired, boosting Salem on top 17-6 at the break.

But then Veasley really got going in the second half and the T-Birds scored three touchdowns to pass by Salem for a 24-17 victory.

McCrory remains in front of the conference pack with a 6-0 mark, followed by Walnut Ridge and Augusta (5-1), Salem (4-2) and Cross County (4-3).

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