Salem got to play spoiler for Winder-Barrow's homecoming on a night when the Bulldoggs lead at the half, but ultimately fell to the Salem Seminoles 60-37 in a wild game full of turnovers and unexpected scoring opportunities.
In essence, this game was one of two halves. In the first half, Winder-Barrow ran the ball commandingly against the Seminoles, putting up 137 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns from three separate running backs.
Salem, however, only managTheir first offensive touchdown, a 54-yard pass from Licash Lackey to sophomore running back Robert Cyrus, capped off an 82-yard, four play drive that was also aided by a Winder-Barrow facemask penalty. Cyrus was able to get ahead of the Winder-Barrow defense and hauled in an exceptional over-the-shoulder catch to win an easy footrace to the end zone.
The second Seminole offensive score of the half came on a 1-yard keeper by Lackey, but that score was setup by another long pass play, a 60-yard reception by Salem junior Kanome McIntosh. When it came to running the ball, Salem could not get it going in the first half.
Of course, 29-19 is a half-time score that most football fans would not expect to see. The strange total was result of the numerous defensive and special teams scores that happened on both sides of the field. On Salem's first drive, Winder-Barrow's defense held the Seminoles to a three-and-out.
Not content to force a punt, the Bulldogg defense broke through the line and blocked the punt back around the Seminole 36-yard line. Winder-Barrow's Andre Scott scooped the loose ball and took it all the way into the end zone for an early touchdown.
With the score 7-0 Bulldoggs, Salem knew they needed a successful next possession. Both defenses stood strong, and after two three-and-outs, it was Winder-Barrow's turn to punt the ball off to Salem.
The kick travelled 44 of the 45 yards to the end zone when it was fielded by the Salem return man. He attempted to return the ball, but was dropped down inside the end zone after the Bulldoggs chased him back from the 1-yard line.
In an odd turn of events, the officials blew the play dead at the 1 instead of as a touchback, saying the carrier called for a fair catch at the 1.
Just three plays later, Licash Lackey was brought down by Winder-Barrow's Ryan Evans for a safety, giving the Bulldoggs a 9-0 lead. The three offensive touchdowns and a missed point-after attempt would give the Bulldoggs their 29 points.
Salem's unusual score, though, came on the first play of the second quarter as the snap got away from Bulldogg quarterback Hunter Cooper and rolled out into open territory near the Bulldogg 35-yard line where Salem's Jared Rogers scooped the ball up and took it in for the defensive touchdown. Their point-after was blocked, making the score 13-9, adding to Cyrus' long touchdown catch. With the Lackey keeper coming later that quarter, and the missed two-point attempt, the Seminoles would take a 29-19 deficit into the half.
The third quarter began just like the second quarter for the Bulldoggs, however, as Salem quickly stole momentum back with a nearly identical bad snap outrunning Winder-Barrow's Cooper. Elijah Daniels recovered the ball for Salem at the Bulldogg 27.
The next two plays went quick for Salem, as Lackey made up most of the ground with a 24-yard carry, but Tyriano Greene punched it in for his first touchdown run of the night, but Salem's point-after was no good.
With a slim 29-25 lead, the Bulldoggs could feel the momentum escaping them at an alarming rate. After much of the same on their next possession, any progress being delayed or erased by penalties and bad snaps, Salem got a lucky bounce on the punt that Winder-Barrow nearly downed at the 1-yard line.
Greene once again carried the majority of the snaps on the next drive, amassing 35-yards of the 80-yard drive. Ultimately, however, Lackey found the end zone for the second time of the night from 17-yards out, putting Salem back in the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter. After the missed point-after, Salem took the slim 31-29 lead.
The Bulldoggs tried to find success on the ground like they did in the first half against Salem by letting Andre Jackson carry for the first two plays of the fresh drive, but it would all go to waste as another bad snap got away from Cooper. This one found itself embedded in the end zone for another quick Salem score.
After the successful two-point play, the Seminoles took a 39-29 lead. After trailing by ten to start the half, the Seminoles led by 10 to finish the third quarter, and they would not slow down.
Winder-Barrow momentum was virtually non-existent in the third quarter as it felt like every force possible in the universe prevented them from moving the ball successfully. If Cooper fielded the snap well, then Salem's defense had already penetrated the line to snuff the play. More often than not, though, the timing on the snap slowed down the Bulldogg offense.
Towards the waning seconds of the third quarter, though, it looked like Winder-Barrow's Cooper found a wide-open Johnathon Nash on third-and-12 deep in their own territory. However, what would have been an easy first down or more for the Bulldoggs died quickly when an inadvertent whistle from the official blew the play dead.
Winder-Barrow fans and coaches argued that the call should have resulted in a first-down at the spot of the catch, as it was an easy 25-yard gain, but the ruling stated that it must be a dead-ball at the previous spot.
On the second attempt at third-and-12, Cooper's pass fell incomplete to an empty field after the Salem defense hurried him out of the pocket. The Bulldoggs were forced to punt.
The Seminoles added three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, two on offense from Tyriano Greene, and another bad snap that got away from Hunter Cooper.