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United stands tall

Golden Eagles prove too much for Salem in 35-28 victory

September 1, 2012
STEPHANIE ELVERD - Staff Writer ( , Salem News

HANOVERTON - After opening the season with losses, Salem and United Local came into Friday's Route 9 rivalry looking for a win. The Golden Eagles found one. The Quakers are still looking.

United survived a fourth-quarter Quaker rally and scored its final touchdown with 2:25 remaining to register a 35-28 victory over its old rival.

"It feels to good to get a win and it feels to get a win against Salem," United coach Mike Ward said. "It's been quite a few years since we've beat them. We want to enjoy it and build on it and work on it. "

United racked up 266 yards on the ground in the win and another 112 in the air. Garrett Beech threw for all the yards and chewed up 161 yards rushing. Beech scored four TDs - including a 92-yard breakaway in the second - and pulled down a key interception.

"Garrett is a special player," Ward said. "But he has great group of players around him. This team has a great chemistry and Garrett is the leader."

Garrett led by example by scoring the first TD of the night with 3:57 showing in the opening quarter. He ran in from 5-yards out. Cole Weikart came through on the PAT.

Salem would spend most of the evening playing catch-up. The Quakers tied the game when QB Trace Jenkins hit pay dirt on a 10-yard run early in the second stanza. Keaton O'Brien split the uprights.

Things were looking up for Salem when Logan Taylor sacked Beech on the first play of the Eagles' next possession, but took a turn for the worse when Beech broke loose on his 92-yard cruise.

Salem tied it again when a Mike Madison interception set up Salem's second scoring drive.

Jenkins plunged into the end zone on a QB keeper.

The Eagles reclaimed the lead when Beech completed a pass to Austin Graham at 3:13.

"That was the ebb and flow of this game," Salem coach Ron Johnson said. "We played 48 minutes of football and it didn't come down to one thing or one play. It was a lot of things and a lot of plays."

United took the 21-14 lead into the half, but when the teams retook the field the momentum would seem to eventually shift. The Eagles, who had deferred the initial kickoff, marched all the way to the Salem 5-yard line. The drive included a fourth-and-7 conversion at the Quaker 30. A big tackle for a loss by Mike Crittenden on third-and goal at the 3 forced the Eagles to go for a field goal. It was wide left.

On the Quakers next possession, they too would roll the dice when they attempted to convert a fourth down on their own 41 with 6 yards needed. It didn't pay off. Austin Graham pulled down Jenkins for the sack and excellent Eagle field advantage. United used eight plays to move ball from the 41 to the goal line and took a 21-14 lead.

But the Quakers battled back with back-to-back scores in the fourth.

"I have to give my kids credit," Johnson said. "They didn't give up. We consider that second-half our third game of the season. We came out and we played Salem football. We didn't play Salem football in the first half."

Salem opened the fourth quarter with a six-play, 77-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a 5-yard run by Jenkins at 10:59. The extra point however failed.

The Quakers defense stood tall on United's ensuing possession, holding the Eagles to three-and-out.

Jake Carner returned the punt across midfield and Salem drove 46-yards on five plays to pull within two points. Jenkins scored from 28 yards out and Panezott caught a two-point pass from Beech to tie it 28 all.

"This game was peaks and valleys," Ward said. "Sometimes those peaks were high and those valleys were low. It was back and forth all night."

The game was ultimately decided by the series of events that followed Salem's final TD. The Eagles tried to convert another fourth down but the Quakers held and took over on the United 36. After two incomplete passes, Beech picked off Jenkins. The Eagles would capitalize on it when Beech came up with another 5-yard TD run.

"That sequence of things was probably what did it," Ward said. "That was the game-changer. I chose to go for it, obviously didn't get it, but the defense bailed me out and Garrett got the big interception and we ended up with the score."

Salem would finish with 195 on the ground and 83 in the air for 278 total yards. Jenkins completed nine of 21 attempts. He also had a team-high 79 yards rushing. Marcus Crittenden had 59 rushing yards. He caught five catches for 33 yards. Carner had two receptions for 32.



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