LYNN — It’s never a good sign for a football team when the majority of its tackles are made by the defensive backfield.
Salem hung tough last night in a road battle against Lynn Classical, but in the end the host Rams dominated the Witches’ front seven in a 26-19 home win.
When Brad Scuzzarella took a counter 62 yards for a touchdown, Classical led by 12 points with just over four minutes left in the game. But Salem’s Devonte Halloway returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to the house, giving Salem life. However, the Rams got the ball back and churned out first down after first down until time ran out.
“We like to run the ball, so we want to run the ball,” Classical coach Tim Phelps said. “(Salem) played extremely hard and gave us more than we could handle at times.”
Scuzzarella (120 yards) ran hard between the tackles and fullback Justin Avery (111 yards) worked the inside trap game to perfection as the Witches’ interior lineman and linebackers simply couldn’t hold their ground. Corners Christian Dunston and Anferne Jimenez had to make tackle after tackle, which meant Classical was facing second-and-short all night.
“We needed a stop down there, (but) they ran the ball inside our tackles tonight very effectively,” Salem skipper Scott Connolly explained. “(Classical’s) offensive line played a great game tonight.”
The Rams opened the game just like they ended it: with a slow, methodical drive using discipline and multiple ballcarriers. Devin Crayton’s 2-yard touchdown run capped off a 12-play, 65-yard drive that spanned nearly seven minutes.
Crayton had Classical’s first three touchdown runs, adding scores from 45 and 7 yards out.
The Witches responded immediately as Dunston (6 for 9 for 109 yards) hit Ben Sattiewhite on a 34-yard fade pass down the 1-yard-line. Sattiewhite used his big body to leap up and haul in a tough ball. Dunston would score on the next play, taking the ball outside on a keeper.
Trailing 12-7 to start the third quarter, Dunston connected with speedy sophomore Genrri Rosario for a 44-yard touchdown pass that was mostly yards after the catch. The pass came on fourth down as Dunston looked the blitz in the eye and fired a bullet to Rosario, who shook and shimmied his way through the Rams’ secondary.
“Ben (Sattiewhite) made a great catch on that (fade pass). I thought offensively we didn’t control the clock, but we made big plays when we needed to do and saw some good things from some people,” Connolly noted. “We see some good things we can build on.”
Salem had a costly encroachment penalty late in the fourth quarter on a 4th-and-4 and also had several holding penalties called. But the Witches remained resilient, nearly forcing a fumble from opposing quarterback Jordan Brown on the final drive, but the officials ruled him down.