Week 8 RNK Game

Week 8 RNK Game 538 352 SWVA High School Sports

Salem pulls away from GW in second half to win the Division 4-Region D Finals

Willis White Field, Spartans Stadium,
Salem, Va. – The visiting Eagles of GW Danville had to feel pretty good going into halftime notched at 14-14 with the home standing Salem Spartans. The problem for the Eagles was that they had to come out and play a second half. Salem, as they do so many times, took the second half kickoff and drove the ball for the go ahead score. This time it was RB 42 Zavione Wood’s 21-yard scoring run. Coach Don Holter’s Spartans never looked back. And Salem did it by only throwing the ball four times on the night. RB 42 Wood and FB 28 Cam Leftwich did most of the damage on the ground. Wood toted the rock 31 times for 279 yards and two scores. Leftwich scored three times and picked up 91 yards on 24 carries.

Salem FB 28 Cam Leftwich breaks tackles

The Salem defense gave up three scores, but still kept the explosive Eagles in check for most of the night. LB 7 Noah Collins led the way with 10 tackles. DL 51 Cam Martindale had a big day on the D-Line with five stops, an interception, a fumble recovery and a pass deflection. Salem Coach Holter challenged his O-line at halftime, “told the guys it was going to come down to the line of scrimmage… offense and defense. We especially challenged the o-line at halftime.” Salem moves on to the State Semifinals next week at home to face Tuscarora, who knocked the Spartans out of the playoffs last year.

First Quarter – GW Danville took the opening kickoff, but couldn’t sustain a drive. Salem, on the other hand, started the game just like they drew it up in practice driving and eating up clock for an opening score.

FB 28 Leftwich follows the Mules into the end zone

FB 28 Cam Leftwich finished it off with a 2- yard run with 7:39 left in Q1 to make it 7-0 with K 20 Wes Cross’ PAT. George Washington answered right back on their next possession. The Eagles moved the ball mostly in the air, short passes and runs. GW’s RB 4 Willie Edmunds got it into the end zone from 6 yards out at 3:49. The game was notched at 7 apiece.

GW RB 4 Willie Edmunds ties the game up

Second Quarter – It look like the Eagles might surge ahead after a 78-yard pass from QB 15 Jeb Byrnes to WR 17 Shyheim Watlington moved the ball to the thirteen but the Salem defense would force a into a turnover on downs.

Salem DL 51 Cam Martindale grabs a fumble

The Spartan defensive line, led by DL 73 Stacy Williams, DE 32 Ky’juan Waller, and DL 51 Cam Martindale were key to keeping the Eagle running game under wraps. Two series later, DL 51 Martindale picked off QB 15 Byrnes and returned it twenty yards. Four plays later FB 28 Leftwich made the Eagles pay with a 1 yard TD run. Salem led 14-7 at the 4:53 mark.

Eagle RB 1 Sha’Kobe Hairston ties it up on a one yard run

DL 51 Martinsdale also collected a fumble, accounting for two turnovers. Coach Holter lauded his Junior D-lineman, “I think the world of (DL DL 51 Cam Martindale. He’s intelligent, hardworking and he’s all over the field.”

Spartan RB 42 Zavione Wood

The GW defense would give the Eagles the ball back with good field position at the Salem twenty two by forcing a fumble of their own. RB 1 Hairston turned the trick again, diving over the pile at the one to tie it up a 14 apiece at the half.

Third Quarter – The second half was classic Salem football. When asked about his halftime speech to his troops, Coach Holter remarked, “We talked about focus and discipline. When you have those things, they allow you to execute you game plan in all three phases. We talked about playing with great physicality.” It showed early in the third quarter as Salem ate up clock, over six minutes, and took the lead they would never relinquish. FB 28 Leftwich powered in from the three, his third TD on the night.

Up 21-14, Salem’s defense got into the act again. Holding GW on downs at midfield. Once Salem regained possession, it took only five plays for the Spartans to extend their lead. RB 42 Wood finished off this march with a 13-yard run. K 20 Wes Cross nailed the point after for the 28-14 Spartan lead with :23 seconds left in the quarter.

Salem RB 42 celebrates a touchdown

RB 42 Wood and FB 28 Leftwich are special once they get in sync. Salem Coach Holter likes that they are old school, “Zavione (RB 42 Wood) is a special back. Our Fullback (FB 28 Cam Leftwich) is extremely physical, runs hard. Not only does he get the tough yards but he’ll block you. We like running ‘iso’, trap, and lead that a lot of folks don’t like doing anymore.”

Fourth Quarter – Both teams scored once more in the final stanza to get to the 35-21 final. GW fought back and RB 1 Sha’Kobe Hairston’s 1-yard run moved the Eagles closer, 28-21, with 9:19 left.

GW’s RB 1 Hairston scores on second effort

But Salem wouldn’t be denied. Exclusively keeping the ball on the ground, and behind “the Mules” (Salem’s O-line), Salem drove the ball. With less than two minutes left, RB 42 Wood put Salem up by two touchdowns, 35-21 with a 10-yard jaunt.

Salem’s Wood scores the game’s last points with two minutes left

GW quickly worked the ball back into Spartan’s territory near the thirty, but Salem DB 8 Chase Greer snatched what would be QB 15 Byrnes last toss and that was that. Salem’s ground game behind the “Mules” (The Spartans name for their O-line) stood out. Coach Holter made no apologies for keeping the ball on the ground and running the football, “We try to keep it simple here in Salem. Last time I checked, three times four is twelve, and that’s a first down. Patience is important.”

Salem, Division 4-Region 4D Champions now moves on to face the Tuscarora Huskies from Leesburg, a 21-13 winner over Broad Run. The last time these two teams faced was in 2019. The Huskies won 36-20 and advanced to the state finals, eventually losing to Lake Taylor.         – Cap’n Crunch

Rushing – 
Salem – Wood 31-279, 2TDs, Leftwich 24-91, 3TDs, Wilson 3-(-18)
GW Danville – Edmonds 17-87, TD, Dixon 2/5, Byrnes 5-7, Hairston 5-4, 2TDs, King 1 – (-1)
Passing – 
Salem– Wilson 1-4, 12
GW Danville – Byrnes 12-27, 248, 2 INTs
Salem– Collins 1-12
GW Danville – Watlington 4-104, Howard 3-76, King 2-47, Dixon 2-18, Spratt 1-5  

First Quarter-
Salem: Leftwich 2-yd TD run; Cross PAT good
GW Danville: Edmunds 6-yd TD run; Deandrea PAT good
Second Quarter-
Salem: Leftwich 1-yd TD run;; Cross PAT good
GW Danville: Hairston 1-yd TD run; Deandrea PAT good
Third Quarter-
Salem: Leftwich 3-yd TD run;; Cross PAT good
Salem: Wood 21-yd TD run;; Cross PAT good
GW Danville: Hairston 1-yd TD run; Deandrea PAT good
Fourth Quarter-
Salem: Wood 10-yd TD run; Cross PAT good

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