Salmen continues win streak with OT win over Shaw

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Good teams find a way to win. Great players make big plays with the game on the line.

Salmen is obviously a good football team in 2017 while Eddie Smith is a great player who does it all for the Spartans.

Salmen overcame a botched punt, four turnovers and a two touchdown deficit to overcome Archbishop Shaw 21-20 at Hoss Memtsas Stadium, spoiling Homecoming for the Eagles in a game heard live on WGSO 990 AM. The victory extended Salmen’s win streak to five games.

Playing both ways, handling kicking duties and returning kicks, Smith was superb, particularly when it mattered most. The TCU commit tied the game 14-14 in the fourth quarter with a 73-yard punt return and his made extra point and won it in overtime with a one-yard touchdown run before kicking the deciding extra point.

“I had a chance to win it and I was able to do it,” Smith said. “We came out slow in the first half. We didn’t play well but we were not going to lose this game. The defense was solid all day. We needed a play and I decided to go for it on the punt with the ball bouncing. I like it when the game is on my shoulders.”

For the longest time, it appeared the underdog Eagles might win their first game of the season.

After Shaw got a defensive stop on Salmen’s first possession, the snap on a punt attempt by LJ Leonard sailed well over his head and Cardenal won a scramble for the ball in the end zone for a score to make it 7-0 with 7:39 to play in the opening quarter.

The lead grew in the second quarter when Lewis picked off a Leonard pass in the right flat and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 9:26 to play in the half.

The half was dominated by defense as Salmen had four first downs while Shaw had just two.

Salmen (6-1) awakened, driving 43 yards in three plays with LJ Leonard connecting with Brayden Gable on a 39-yard touchdown pass and Smith made the extra point to make it 14-7 with 43 seconds to play in the third quarter.

The game-tying punt return by Smith came with 2:07 to play as he fielded a bouncing ball from Patrick Leonard, eluded the first wave of defenders, made one cut and outran the remainder of the Shaw coverage team for the 73-yard touchdown and he made the extra point, sending the game to overtime.

Shaw sophomore quarterback Chris Dufrene injured his left leg late in the fourth quarter and sophomore Tyler Nichol took over and sparked the Eagles. He engineered a drive which started at the Shaw 39-yard line and reached Salmen 11-yard line, completing 3-of-4 passes for 30 yards. That set up a potential game-winning field goal by Leonard but he missed it well right, forcing overtime.

Shaw (0-7) got the ball first in the overtime period and on the first play, Nichol connected with Luke Pounds on a 10-yard touchdown pass but Leonard missed the critical extra point to make it 20-14.

Salmen opened its overtime possession with a nine-yard run by Aaron Williams to the one-yard line. The Eagles stiffened, stopping Smith twice for no gain before Smith leaped into the end zone on fourth-and-goal to tie it 20-20. Smith then booted the game-deciding point to give Salmen its fifth straight win.

“We found a way to win,” said Salmen head coach Jerry Leonard. “Credit our kids for continuing to battle. Our defense kept us in and we were able to overcome the turnovers. Of course, it helps to have Eddie Smith on your side. We have been winning these kind of close games all year. We knew Shaw was better than its record.”

Williams rushed 21 times for 99 yards to pace the Salmen attack while Leonard had a tough game, completing just 7-of-16 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions. Gable had two catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Eddie Johnson had an interception for the Spartans.

Dufrene connected on 12-of-21 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown with an interception while Nichol finished 5-of-6 for 35 yards and a touchdown. Lonzell McCoy had five catches for 51 yards. Lewis, Ryan Taix and Brock Davis each recorded an interception while Blake Billiot recovered a fumble for the Eagles.

“This one hurts to lose,” said Shaw head coach Tommy Connors. “We played hard, played well on defense and gave ourselves a chance to win. The progress is there. You have to learn from it and grow from it. There is improvement. It is a process. We know we can compete and that was proven today. Now, we have to move forward and continue to work to win.”

Salmen opens District 8-4A action next Friday night at home against Pearl River while Shaw will continue in quest of its first win against Jesuit in a 9-5A contest next Saturday at 7 p.m. at Hoss Memtsas Stadium in a game that you can listen to on WRBH 88.3 FM.

Final

Salmen   0    0    7    7   7   21

Shaw      7     7   0    0   6   20

Scoring

1st Qtr.

Shaw—Bad punt snap recovered by Kade Cardenal in end zone (Patrick Leonard kick)  7-0

2nd Qtr.

Shaw—Dorian Lewis, 62 yard interception return (Patrick Leonard) 14-0

3rd Qtr.

Salmen—Brayden Gable, 39 yard pass from LJ Leonard (Eddie Smith kick)  14-7

4th Qtr.

Salmen—Eddie Smith, 72 yard punt return (Eddie Smith kick)  14-14

OT

Shaw—Luke Pounds, 10 yard pass from Tyler Nichol (kick failed) 20-14

Salmen—Eddie Smith, 1 yard run (Eddie Smith kick)  21-20

STATS

Rushing Yards

Salmen 132, Shaw 18

Passing Yards

Salmen 76, Shaw 125

Total Yards

Salmen 208, Shaw 143

Penalties

Salmen 4 for 45 yards, Shaw 9 for 52 yards

Sacks

Salmen 2, Shaw 2

Turnovers

Salmen 4, Shaw 1

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