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October 19, 2013

Danvers topples Salem to clinch first NEC South championship in eight years

(Continued)

So did the Falcons’ offensive line — senior left tackle Tom Quinn (a 3-year starter), senior left guard Brian Daly, senior center Adam Tibbetts, junior right guard Dan Cote, junior right tackle Kevin Smith, senior tight end Lucas Lentine and junior split end Cris Valles — who held their blocks, opened holes and wore down the Witches in the trenches.

“Best push they’ve had all season,” said Rogers, whose team has won five straight.

Valles went over right tackle from 3 yards out to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter. Danvers sophomore defensive end Marco LaGambina then recovered a Salem fumble with four minutes until the half ended, and the hosts took advantage by scoring quickly as Cordoba went in from 3 yards out. The Falcons led, 13-7, at halftime.

“We came out strong and were able to run a lot of plays offensively, so to get only seven points out of that is frustrating,” said Connolly. “We left points on the board tonight, and when you play a team with a back like Valles, you can’t leave any points on the board.”

Salem (now 1-5) got another strong outing out of the backfield from senior Aaron Palmer, who rushed for 104 yards and his team’s only score, a 2-yard jaunt on the game’s opening drive. The Witches also opened up the playbook a bit and utilized the pass, with quarterback Austin Connolly completing 7-of-11 throws for 86 yards and Shakir White hitting on a halfback option pass for for 38. Together, Chris Dunlop and White caught a half-dozen passes for 110 yards between them.

But Salem was stopped on 4th-and-goal at the Danvers 2 when it was still a 7-7 game early in the second quarter, then was thwarted again early in the fourth after failing to convert on 4-and-2 from the Falcons’ 11.

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