SALEM — Danvers High football coach Sean Rogers expected an extra point kick and overtime.
Salem head coach Scott Connolly, on the other hand, wanted no part of trying to defend the Falcons in extra time.
So, in a game that featured more scoring than all but five games in the history of Salem News high school football coverage, everything came down to a two-point conversion.
The respective defenses made very few stops all night, but Danvers (5-5) came up with one when it needed it most, taking down Salem’s scintillating quarterback, Christian Dunston, at the line of scrimmage on the two-point attempt to hold on for a wild 46-45 win at Bertram Field.
Dunston pulled Salem (4-6) within one point after weaving his way through the Danvers defense for a 66-yard touchdown run with just 57 seconds remaining. He didn’t have any magic left on the two-point conversion, however, stumbling as he tried to hit a hole up the middle.
“We were expecting a sprint out and were actually surprised that he went up the middle,” Rogers said of Dunston. “But our D-line really stepped up big when they needed to.”
Dunston was almost untouchable all night. He ran for 208 yards and three scores on only 11 carries. Whether it was a broken-down passing play or a designed run, Dunston pestered the Falcon defenders all night.
Not to be outdone, Danvers junior running back Alex Valles carved his way through the Salem defense for 193 rushing yards and five scores. Valles scored on runs of 2, 11, 38, 4 and 53 yards.
Dunston, meanwhile, produced TD runs of 69, 7 and 66 yards, and Salem running back Greg Speliotis also scored three times.
“The Dunston kid is a stud; he really hurt us on broken down plays,” Rogers said. “But we buckled down in the second half. I thought our angles were a lot better, and I thought we were better at tackling in the second half.”