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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Muddy mess makes for happy Hounds

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SLIPPIN' THROUGH: Salem quarterback Ty Berry turns the corner on an Augusta defender Oct. 30 in the Greyhounds' 26-21 victory. Photo/Mullins
The 2009 Salem Greyhounds are a lot like ankle-deep mud.

And that's a good thing.

When you try to navigate through a patch of thick, oozy mud, it has a way of grabbing hold of you and relentlessly pulling with all the force of a Mack Truck in reverse.

Then, just when you think you've got your balance, you hit a slick spot and you're on your back, looking straight up into the sky.

Through the first eight weeks of the 2009 football season, the Hounds had been that patch of thick, oozy mud to their opponents, grabbing and pulling until they had found a way to knock their foes off balance, leaving them looking up at Salem at the end of the game.

Week nine of the season was not one bit different as Salem welcomed the Augusta Red Devils to the thoroughly muddy and water-logged field at Greyhound Stadium for an important 3-2A Conference matchup.

And when the night had ended, the Hounds were in possession of a hard-earned 26-21 victory over the Red Devils. The win gives the Hounds a spotless 5-0 record on their home turf this season. Better than that, the victory over the Red Devils (5-3) also ties Salem (6-2) for third place in the conference standings with Augusta -- both teams have 5-2 conference records. McCrory (9-0, 7-0) remains in first place, while Walnut Ridge (7-2, 6-1) is in second place.

In the clash with the Red Devils, Greyhound quarterback Ty Berry was masterful in the way he guided Salem up and down the field, mixing big runs with timely passes all night long. Berry finished with 107 yards rushing, while also throwing for 167 yards in the game.

The way the game started, it looked as though the Hounds were going to be in for a long night on the quagmire-like playing surface.

Augusta's lightning-quick tailback, Ishma Clark, took the second snap from scrimmage and ran up the middle of the field 65 yards for the first touchdown of the night, just 20 seconds into the game.

Salem's first series ended with an interception and the next time Clark touched the ball, he once again was off to the races for another 65-yard touchdown. However, the Greyhounds dodged a big bullet as this one was called back due to offsetting personal fouls. Costly penalties plagued the Red Devils all night long and, along with Salem's stout-as-usual defense, kept Augusta from finding any real rhythm on the offensive side of the football.

Augusta led 6-0 after the first quarter, but it didn't take Salem long in the second to tie things up.

Berry crossed the goal line from a yard out at the 11:12 mark of the second to knot the contest at 6-all and start off what turned out to be an eventful second quarter of play.

The Red Devils tried a fake punt at their own 40-yard line on their next series, but the Hounds sniffed out the play and stopped Augusta short.

Salem drove the ball to within five yards of a touchdown, mixing in nice runs from Clint Ray (56 yards rushing) and Rocky Smith (24 yards), but an interception in the end zone kept the Greyhounds off the board.

Undeterred, Salem logged its second touchdown of the night with 1:35 left until the half on another quarterback keeper from Berry, this one from two yards out, pushing the home team in front 12-6.

That's when things got interesting.

Augusta's next possession ended after one snap when Jordan King picked off a Brandon Briscoe pass attempt. Three snaps later, Briscoe returned the favor by picking off a Salem pass. Two snaps later, Augusta fumbled the football and Adam Beard fell on the football at the Augusta 10-yard line.

After Berry hit Jason Huff (102 yards receiving) with a pass that pushed the ball to the 2, Berry racked up his third TD of the first half with 26 ticks left on the clock. Berry also carried in the 2-point conversion to push the Greyhounds in front 20-6.

But the Hounds booted a short pop-up on the ensuing kickoff and Augusta's Matt Bowen grabbed the kick and ran it back 59 yards for a TD with 14 ticks still on the first-half clock. Clark caught the 2-point conversion pass and the team went to intermission with Salem in front 20-14.

The Hounds added another score onto their tally midway into the third with a 65-yard scoring drive. Berry hit Huff, Clint Ray (22 yards receiving) and Cameron Crow (20 yards receiving) with some nifty passes on the drive, pushing the ball all the way to the Augusta 5. From there, it was Berry once again, giving the Greyhounds a 26-14 lead at the 8:55 mark of the third.

Augusta answered quickly with a 39-yard touchdown run from Clark on the Red Devils' next series, pulling the visitors within five, down 26-21.

When the ball becoming harder to handle by the minute, due to the unfavorable muck on the field, each team turned the ball over twice in the final quarter.

But it was the last turnover that did Augusta in.

With 28 seconds left in the game and the Red Devils at the Salem 45, Dylan Smith picked off a Briscoe pass to give the ball back to the Hounds, sealing Salem's 26-21 victory.

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