LYNN - The Salem front seven really showed up for last night’s game at Manning Field against Lynn English after the week before when the group had a hard time stopping the Lynn Classical ground game.
Offensively, however the Witches took a step back and Salem lost its second game in a row, 23-12 to the Bulldogs to drop to 3-3 on the season.
After the game, the visiting head coach was pleased with his defense, in particular the defensive line.
“I thought our defensive line played excellent. They were very, very good tonight against a big offensive line,” Salem coach Scott Connolly said. “I was very proud of my defensive line.”
Jared Louf-Woods was a beast in the trenches, recording a pair of sacks and a handful of tackles including a couple that went for losses.
Louf-Woods, Andrew Romeo, Kyle Coleman and Cameron Harvey gave the Bulldogs offensive line all they could handle.
Unlike last week against Classical, it wasn’t big drives that killed the Witches, but big plays. The Bulldogs (4-2) scored on their second drive when running back Isaiah Davis went for a 35-yard touchdown run off the left edge. Davis would add a fourth quarter 55-yard touchdown run, totaling 225 yards rushing including five runs of 30 yards or more.
“In spite of being banged up, I think we got better tonight. Some kids got some action that normally wouldn’t,” English head coach Peter Holey. “Plus we got the win to boot.”
Offensively the Witches were inconsistent and lacked discipline in their blocking. Almost every big Salem gain got called back for some sort of hold. In the third quarter, QB Christian Dunston converted a third and long with a 30-plus yard run deep into Bulldog territory but it was called back on a chop block that occured 10-yards downfield.
“We had a couple penalties that were crucial on some big plays,” Connolly said.
Then, there were the turnovers. Dunston was picked off three times, including a costly interception in the fourth quarter when he underthrew Ben Sattiewhite, who was open in the end zone.
Salem fumbled on its first drive of the game when the center tried to catch a Bulldog defensive lineman offside when he jumped into the neutral zone. Dunston wasn’t ready for the snap and with no flag on the play, the Witches gave English the ball back after forcing the Bulldogs to turn the ball over on downs on their first drive.
Aaron Palmer had a costly fumble after he broke a 15-yard run and had the Witches moving with a chance to score before the end of the first half.
The Salem defensive meanwhile forced plenty of turnovers of their own and were stout on fourth down. Austin Connolly had a pair of interceptions showing he’s one of the best on the North Shore when the balls in the air. His first set up a four-yard touchdown run by Dunston. Anferne Jimenez also picked off English starter DJ Mullen.
“We didn’t capitalize on some key turnovers and we need to especially against a team like that,” Connolly explained. “The less we give them the ball the better off we are because that kid Davis runs the ball real tough. They (English) are big up front and they broke a few on us.”
Salem speedster Jonathan Crimble gave Salem hope late in the fourth quarter when he cut the Bulldog lead to 16-12 with a 79-yard kickoff return with 4:24 on the clock, after Davis’ second TD. The hope didn’t last as Desmond Wilhelmsen broke a 30-yard touchdown run to ice it.
Looking ahead Salem remains positive with Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Tier two play beginning this upcoming week. Connolly feels that offensively, the Witches only need a few tweaks before they’re putting more points on the scoreboard.
“It’s a little thing here and a little thing there that we have to fix and we’re going to be very good on offense in the coming weeks,” Connolly noted. “We fix it tomorrow and we get better next week because it doesn’t get any easier. We play a tough Swampcott team next week.”