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Westside of the woodshed

Monday, September 13, 2010

It was kind of like stepping off the curb and into the path of a fast-moving bus.

A Greyhounds bus, that is.

A bus that the Westside Warriors had no idea was even near them, until they lay flattened with tire tracks across their backs.

Utilizing an unstoppable, smash-mouth ground attack on offense, coupled with an aggressive, smothering blanket on defense, the Class 2A Salem Greyhounds kicked off the 2010 football season by blitzing the Class 4A Westside Warriors 36-6 Sept. 3 at ASU Stadium in Jonesboro.

Salem (1-0) was clicking on all cylinders in this one, rolling out 292 yards rushing and over 400 total yards of offense, while holding the Warriors (0-1) scoreless until late in the third quarter.

Junior quarterback John Turney had a huge night for the Greyhounds, racking up 114 yards and a touchdown rushing, while also throwing for 113 yards and two TDS.

Junior running back Nick Gaskins also had an outstanding first game of the season, running for 135 yards on the night.

The Hounds weren't about to let the opportunity to play on the same field that the Arkansas State Red Wolves call home go to waste and Salem was business-like from the outset.

After forcing Westside to punt on its first series of the game, the Greyhounds took the ball over on their own 23-yard line.

Twelve plays later, Turney hit David Tarpley with a 23-yard touchdown pass at the 2:38 mark of the first quarter for Salem's first points of 2010. The 2-point conversion was no good, leaving the Hounds in front 6-0.

While Salem's offense had set the tone for the evening with its 13-play, 77-yard scoring drive, the Greyhound defense was about to let the Warriors know it would be a long night for them on the other side of the ball, as well.

Gaskins picked off Westside quarterback Brad House to end the Warriors' second possession of the game.

On the first snap of the second quarter, Turney ran 14 yards for Salem's second TD of the first half. He also carried in the 2-point try to stake the Hounds to a quick 14-0 lead.

On Westside's next series, the Warriors tried to get tricky and it backfired.

House tossed a quick lateral to fullback Josh Pierce and Pierce, in turn, lofted the ball downfield.

Right into the waiting hands of Salem defensive back Blake Hensley.

Hensley's pick set up Salem's next touchdown, a 9-yard pass from Turney to Rock Smith on second-and-goal with 6:47 remaining until halftime. Smith also ran in the 2-point conversion to putSalem's advantage at 22-0.

With less than four minutes left in the first half, Westside fashioned its best-looking drive of the game, starting at the Salem 38-yard line.

But that drive ended in frustration for the Warriors as Jesse James picked off House for the Westside quarterback's third interception of the half.

One play later, Gaskins broke free down the sideline for a 63-yard touchdown scamper with eight ticks on the clock. Smith blasted across the end zone for the 2-point conversion to give Salem a commanding 30-zip lead at the half.

Salem added to its cushion with a TD to start the second half.

Hensley ran in from five yards out at the 8:53 mark of the third quarter to stake the Hounds to a 36-0 lead.

The Warriors finally broke the ice with a House 16-yard touchdown run with 1:08 left in the third.

But that was not nearly enough, as Salem cruised to a 30-point victory in what was a bit of a homecoming for Greyhound Head Coach Sammy Weir.

Weir was a standout football player at Arkansas State University during the 1960s, before moving on to a professional career with the Houston Oilers and New York Jets.

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