By Nick Curcuru Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — SALEM — Football is a game of momentum.
Those were the words of Salem head coach Scott Connolly after Friday’s 28-19 loss to Gloucester at Bertram Field.
Momentum was a huge factor in Friday’s Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Tier 2 clash as Salem rode the momentum it gained in the first half to a 19-7 lead at the break.
Unfortunately for the Witches, they could not stop Gloucester’s second half momentum as the Fishermen dominated the games final 22 minutes scoring the games final 21 points for the win.
Connolly was quick to credit the Fishermen for their physical play.
“They wore us out in the second half with their power running game,” Connolly said. “We had a good first half, we executed and we were efficient. But in the second half they took it to us and wore us down.
It’s a game of momentum. Gloucester got the momentum in the second half and ran with it.”
Trailing 19-7 at the start of the third quarter Gloucester needed a score on its first drive of the half and it did just that. Fullback Jordan Pallazola capped off a nine play 61 yard drive with a two yard plunge to cut the Witches lead to 19-14 with six minutes to go in the quarter.
On the Witches ensuing drive Gloucester built on its momentum as senior Austin Titus recovered a Witches fumble that set Gloucester up in Salem territory.
Four plays later Mark Horgan raced 33 yards on a reverse to give the Fishermen their first lead of the day at 21-19.
The Gloucester defense came up big again on Salem’s next drive forcing a three-and-out and followed up the defensive stand with another scoring drive. This time it was a nine play, 55 yard drive culminating with a three yard run from Pallazola to make it 28-19.
Salem put together a strong drive on its ensuing possession driving the ball deep into Gloucester territory but Freshman Alex Enes came up with a big interception in the end zone to thwart the drive and essentially seal the win for Gloucester.
“We had success in the first half but in the second half they did a good job taking away Dunston’s scrambling ability,” Connolly said. “They brought one less backer and had their defensive linemen wait and look for the scramble. They did a good job at it.”
Salem came out of the gates on fire building an early 13-0 lead scoring on its first two possessions.
The Witches capped off a 15 play 63 yard 8:48 drive with a 13 yard touchdown pass to Ben Sattiewhite to make it 7-0.
Salem followed up with a three-and-out on defense and scored again on its ensuing offensive possession when Dunston hit a wide open Ben Kapnis for a 35 yard score to make it 13-0 Witches.
Horgan scored from 14 yards out with a minute to play in the half to cut the lead to 13-7 but Salem came right back. Dunston made two big completions down to the 34 yard line then hit Sattiewhite with a 34 yard touchdown strike on the final play of the half to make it 19-7 Witches at the break.
“We clicked in the first half,” Connolly said. “Defensively we were efficient and we put together a nice eight minute drive to keep their offense off the field. Then we just started to wear down.”