SALEM -For the second week in a row, Salem was so close to victory, yet so painfully far.
A hard-fought second half kept the Quakers alive against Canton South, but big penalties and missed opportunities hurt the Quakers, and the Wildcats got the nailbiting victory 25-20 on Friday at Reilly Stadium.
"Salem played their hearts out, and we did as well," Canton South coach Moe Daniska said. "We just had a couple more plays to win."
The Wildcats (6-3, 3-3 in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference) got action from their proven threat senior wide receiver D.J. Wilson including a opening drive 34-yard touchdown run to take the early lead and a 69-yard run later in the second quarter. Quarterback Josh Lyon added a 7-yard touchdown rush of his own. As the half ended, however, a costly interception, courtesy of Salem linebacker Logan Taylor on Salem's 4-yard line set them back.
"We were worried, we made some dumb mistakes," Daniska said. "We threw an interception right on the four-yard line, and we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit."
The Quakers (2-7, 0-6) struggled in the first half with offense. Although sophomore quarterback Matthew Weingart connected with senior tight end Max Wolfgang and senior wide receiver Dan Rumsey for big yardage plays, attempts to capitalize after big penalties, including a pass interference call against Canton South in the second quarter, fell by the wayside due to strong Wildcats defense.
Taylor's interception, though, opened the way for a 4-yard touchdown run for Rumsey as the first half came to an end.
Weingart worked with senior wide receiver Haedan Panezott with big rushing plays in the second half with Rumsey and Wolfgang receiving. Six minutes, 20 seconds into the 3rd quarter, the 13-play drive ended with Rumsey running for 23 yards into the end zone.
After stopping the Wildcats, the Quakers took two plays before Weingart connected with senior tight end Max Wolfgang for 28 yards to give the Quakers their first lead in the game.
The momentum was indeed on the Quakers' side, and coach Ron Johnson felt that the win was there.
"We played a really good 24 minutes," Johnson said. "We played a really good second half. We played well enough throughout the game and deserved to win that game."
Canton South, however, regained the lead back after a 7-yard pass from Lyon to Wilson, leading 25-20. On the next Quakers drive, Weingart threw a costly interception to Wilson, and temporarily gave the Wildcats the ball back.
With the Quakers forcing a punt on 4th and 22 late in the fourth quarter, Salem had the opportunity to come back to win, but two penalties after the punt - roughing the kicker and facemask - resulted in a first down for the Wildcats, sealing the Quakers' fate.
The penalties were a big sore spot for the Quakers.
"I'm very disappointed," Johnson said. "There were so many things that were out of our control, and it's just frustrating."
Wilson, involved in three touchdowns, an interception and a fumble recovery along with rushing for 130 yards on seven carries, was all smiles with his team's victory.
"I don't think we played our best," Wilson said. "We came out on top though. A win is a win."
Both coaches enjoyed seeing Wilson's athleticism, which should continue as he is set to attend Vanderbilt University next year on baseball scholarship.
"D.J. Wilson is the best player on the field," Johnson said. "We knew that when he was rookie of the year as freshman at (Canton) McKinley, he's going to Vanderbilt for a reason, he's a class-act kid."
"He's just a special athlete," Daniska said. "There's a reason why he's gotten a scholarship in baseball already. We just try to give him the ball in space, and he just makes things happen."
Along with Wilson, Khalil Coleman rushed for 72 yards in his 13 carries while Mark Nicoletti had 30 yards receiving in three catches.
For the quarterbacks, Lyon went 11-for-18 passing for 100 yards and one interception while Weingart went 12-for-26 for 128 yards and one interception.
For the Quakers, Wolfgang caught four balls for 56 yards and Rumsey had two catches for 41 yards, while wide receiver Haedan Panezott rushed for 88 yards on 18 carries, and senior Marcus Crittenden went for 55 yards on seven carries.
The Quakers close their season next Friday at home against West Branch.
CANTON SOUTH 13-6-0-6-25
CS - D.J. Wilson 34 run (Tim Schaar kick)
CS - Josh Lyon 2 run (kick failed)
CS - D.J. Wilson 69 run (pass failed)
S -Dan Rumsey 4 run (Mike Popa kick)
S -Dan Rumsey 23 pass from Matthew Weingart (kick failed)
S - Max Wolfgang 28 pass from Matthew Weingart (Mike Popa kick)
CS - D.J. Wilson 7 pass from Josh Lyon (pass failed)
First downs 1613
Total Yards 374276
RUSHING-Canton South, D.J. Wilson 7-130, Khalil Coleman 13-72; Salem, Haedan Panezott 18-88, Marcus Crittenden 7-55, Dan Rumsey 1-4.
PASSING-Canton South, Josh Lyon 11-18-100-1; Salem, Matthew Weingart 12-26-128-1
RECEIVING-Canton South, D.J. Wilson 4-18, Mark Nicolette 3-30, John May 1-28, Elec Eller 1-7, David Bates 1-14, Khalil Coleman 1-3 ; Salem, Max Wolfgang 4-56, Dan Rumsey 2-41, Marcus Crittenden 2-20, Mike Popa 1-6, Blake Hochadel 1-7.
INTERCEPTIONS-Canton South, D.J. Wilson ; Salem, Logan Taylor
FUMBLE RECOVERIES-Canton South, D.J. Wilson.