On Friday, Sept. 14, a fumble recovery and another late drive was needed to regain the lead, and take a victory over the Mayflower Eagles.
It was a rainy, wet slippery-ball night at Mayflower, a town near Conway. But the Greyhounds started strong by establishing a successful running game, and racking up two J. J. Gray touchdown runs. The Hounds led 12 to 0 with 2:47 left in the first quarter, after failing to pick up extra points.
Mayflower, led by quarterback Troy Dockins, scored on a five yard pass at the end of the quarter to make the score 12 to 7.
The second quarter, the Hounds offense stalled as quarterback Dillon Turner threw an interception, J.J. Gray fumbled twice, and Layne Kirkland fumbled. Two of the fumbles occured as the Hounds were inside the Mayflower 20 yard line and driving.
As Salem had its troubles, Mayflower pulled ahead 14 to 7, when three running plays produced a touchdown and the point-after kick was good.
|Things could have been much worse for Salem, however.||Before the touchdown, facing a fourth down and ten on the 41 yard line, Dockins escaped a sack and threw a touchdown pass to a wide open Eagles receiver in the end zone. The play was called back, however, as the Eagles and Hounds were whistled for off-setting penalties. Salem held when the down was replayed, as a pass picked up nine yards, a yard short of the needed first down.|
The momentum switched back to Salem after Mayflower's go-ahead touchdown. While Kirkland fumbled to give Mayflower the ball, Agustus Freeman forced a Mayflower fumble, which Salem recovered. Blake Hensley's 58 yard run took the ball deep into Mayflower territory, Justin Sparks ran to the five yard line, and J.J. Gray took it in for his third touchdown of the game. When a two point conversion attempt failed, the Hounds were leading 18 to 14, with just 1:44 left in the half.
But Mayflower wasn't finished. Beginning on their 20 yard line, the Eagles quickly moved into Hounds territory and had the ball on Salem's seven yard line with 22 seconds left in the half. A dropped pass brought up fourth down, and Dockins held on to the ball after receiving the snap, running it in for a 21 -18 lead, after a PAT kick was good.
Mayflower began the second half with the ball, but Salem held. Rain had resumed and a bad snap resulted in a Turner fumble, turning the ball back to the Eagles. Sparks and Freeman teamed up for a quarterback sack, and Nathan King picked up an interception.
The resulting Salem drive was a little ragged - Turner recovered another bad snap fumble and a Mayflower off side call, after stopping the Hounds on a fourth and two, kept the drive going. Gray took the ball to the Eagle's one yard line and Turner ran in it for a touch down. Turner then hit Heath Goodman on a slant pass for a two point conversion.
The third quarter ended with Salem up 26 to 21.
In the fourth, Jordan Burns, a new Mayflower quarterback, hit a receiver for a 10 yard gain in a fourth and long situation. Two plays later, the Eagles were back in the end zone, and a point after attempt was good for a 28 -26 lead.
The Hounds fought back, taking the ball into Eagle's territory, when they fumbled and lost the ball on the Eagles 46 with 6:50 left in the game.
Mayflower hoped to ice a victory and had a nice drive going, helped by a 15 yard Salem penalty that moved the ball to the 15 yard line, when slippery ball syndrome struck again. Mayflower fumbled, and the fight to recover the ball was on. Twice it appeared someone had recovered, only to see the ball pop out again. The scrum ended with Justin Sparks in possession of the ball, giving Salem another shot to take the lead with just 5:02 left in the game.
Starting at their own 25 yard line, the Hounds got off to a good start when Sparks gained 12 yards. As the Hounds marched deep into Eagle territory, Gray got five yards, Hensley two and Turner, unable to find a receiver, fought for three yards, setting up a fourth and inches with 3:13 left. Turner kept the ball, falling forward for the yardage that kept the Hounds alive.
Gray earned another new set of downs with a ten yard run. Sparks and Kirkland both gained four yards, moving the ball near the goal line. Facing a fourth and three with 1:30 left, Turner calmly floated a touchdown pass to Kirkland.
Ahead 32 to 28, Salem went for two, and Turner's pass to Hensley boosted the lead to 34 to 28 with just 1:03 left.
Mayflower moved the ball after the kickoff, helped by Salem dropping eight players back and going with just a three man rush. King made a good tackle to end a 15 yard pass play, and Sparks' close coverage resulted in an incomplete pass. The Eagles kept moving however, reaching the 41 yard line with 31 seconds left. Goodman held Burns to just five yards when he kept the ball and ran it. With just four seconds left, Mayflower gave it one last shot, throwing a last pass downfield, but Sparks knocked it down and the game went to the Hounds 34 to 28.
After a long trip to Mayflower, enduring wet conditions with only about 50 Salem supporters on hand, victory was especially sweet. The Greyhounds went to three wins on the season, remaining undefeated despite facing tough Class 3A competition from a larger school.