“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.