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Salem Wildcats turn over West Lincoln Bears

The visiting Salem Wildcats had just enough firepower Fridaynight to spoil West Lincoln’s homecoming and hand the Bears a tough33-20 Region 4-1A loss on Perry Miller Field.

“We played hard and well enough to win, but we had too manyturnovers and that hurt our chances,” said West Lincoln head coachBrooks Burns.

West Lincoln falls to 0-7 overall and 0-5 in region play. Salemimproved to 3-2 in the region and 3-4 on the season.

“We made a lot of mental mistakes during the game,” said Salemhead coach Kenneth Murphy. “West Lincoln played a hard game againstus. We are in the playoff hunt as of right now, but we do not needto have games like this game again. If we do, we will be put out ofthe playoffs quickly.

“But I am not belittling West Lincoln. They were ready to playand their coaches had their players prepared.”

The Bears jumped on the Wildcats for an early 6-0 lead to startthe first quarter when Jamie Byrd returned the kickoff 79 yards topaydirt. Josh Reno’s extra point kick failed.

Salem came back with two touchdowns at the 5:32 mark and the1:11 mark to take a 13-6 lead over West Lincoln. QuarterbackGarreth Murphy hit Darecus Slocum on a 20-yard touchdown-pass andShannon Ratcliff scored on a 3-yard plunge for the second TD.Ratcliff kicked kicked his first PAT and missed his other threeattempts.

In the second quarter, the Wildcats scored at the 7:10 mark on a7-yard run by Rio Davis to push the Salem lead to 19-6.

West Lincoln scored on a 26-yard run by Jeremy Byrd with 1:38left in the first half, cutting the deficit to 19-12.

Following a scoreless third quarter, Salem started the fourthand scored at the 9:50 mark on a Murphy quarterback sneak followedby a 2-point conversion run to push the Wildcats lead to 27-12.

With three minutes left to play, West Lincoln scored its finalTD on a 1-yard carry by Lee Jones. Jamie Byrd scored the 2-pointconversion, cutting the Salem lead to 27-20.

The Bears tried an onside kickoff and were successful gettingthe ball. West Lincoln ran off several plays before fumbing theball back to Salem. The Wildcats capialized and scored atouchdown.

Then Wildcats were successful with their onside kick and ran outthe clock.

Salem scored an insurance touchdown with 44 seconds remaining ona 5-yard pass from Murphy to Aaron Gaines.

Ratliff powered the Wildcat running game with 14 rushes for 186yards. Murphy finished with 84 yards on 17 carries.

For the Bears, Lee Jones rushed 18 times for 58 yards. JeremyByrd rushed eight times for 70 yards. Jamie Byrd followed with 67yards on nine carries.

In the air, Murphy completed 8 of 14 passes for 141 yards forthe Wildcats. Richard Gonzales caught three for 67 yards followedby Tucker Crawford with three for 47 yards. Following with a catchwere Darecus Slocum for 20 yards and Gaines for five yards.

Defensively, Jamie Rushing and Jones led West Lincolnwith nine tackles apiece. Making eight stops was Cole Wallace.Nathaniel Pruski finished with seven tackles. Keith Jent recovereda fumble.

Salem was led on defense by Gaines with six tackles andan assist. Murphy followed with five tackles and four assists.Gonzales had two tackles and made six assists. Recovering a fumblewere Nate Graham, Michael Martin and Murphy.

West Lincoln hosts Dexter and Salem hosts Bogue Chittoin region action Friday night.