SALEM - Louisville's Trent Ohman ran for 202 yards as the Leopards jumped out to a 22-0 halftime lead and staved off a traditional second-half flurry by the Salem Quakers to win 43-26 Friday night at Reilly Stadium.
The Quaker offense was unable to move the football against the Louisville defense for the duration of the first half. The final three possessions for Salem in the first half resulted in nine, nine and 14 yards.
"We had what we wanted to do, but we just weren't getting guys blocked," Salem head coach Ron Johnson said. "We came out with a little more energy in the second half and I think it was pretty productive."
Louisville's Gary Anile blocked a Quaker punt on the first drive of the game after the Leopard defense forced a three-and-out to set Louisville up in prime field position inside of the Salem 20.
However, Quaker defense bowed their necks and kept the Leopards out of the end zone, and the only points that Louisville would get came on a 24-yard field goal by Merrick Storlie.
Salem's defense was called upon again in the first quarter and answered the bell. The Quakers forced a turnover on downs after a short punt gave Louisville the football at midfield.
"The defense picked us up. I thought they played exceptionally well in the first half. The next possession they had them stopped twice," Johnson said.
The Leopards featured a passing attack in previous weeks but came into this week focused on moving the ball on the ground.
Louisville found the end zone in the second quarter when Trent Ohman, filling in this week for injured Leopard quarterback Joey Duckworth, crossed the goal line just into the second quarter on a 14-yard touchdown run to put Louisville up 9-0.
The Leopards, similar to Minerva last week, took advantage of the Quaker kick coverage on the ensuing kickoff recovered a squib kick to set up their next scoring drive.
Again with the ball in Salem territory, Louisville used a steady ground attack that culminated when Ohman took a snap and ran around the right end and in for the score from 12-yards out.
After forcing Salem to turn the ball over on downs, the Leopards needed just five plays to score again. They did so with a big play from Joseph Hayford, when he broke loose and shed Quaker tacklers for a 52-yard touchdown.
"With a good strong runner like that, you can't tackle him up high," Johnson said. "Especially when it's wet. You have to get in there and take their feet away from him."
In the second half, the Quakers fared much better on the offensive side of the football and the third quarter saw nearly as much scoring as the entire fist half.
Unfortunately for the Quakers, the Leopards continued to churn up yards as well.
Louisville continued their ground-it-out attack. Their opening drive of the second half once again featured Hayford and Ohman, finishing when Hayford spring free on a 21-yard touchdown run.
With Salem's first possession of the third quarter, the Quaker offense was finally able to develop some consistency and continuity en route to a score of their own.
The Quakers rattled off a 15 play, 77-yard drive to answer the Hayford touchdown run with a three-yard touchdown pass from Trace Jenkins to Brendan Webb.
"We made conversions, we made contested catches, and We made good throws under pressure," Johnson said. "Our offensive line gave us time to throw. Nothing surprised us. We just didn't execute in the first half and got behind the eight ball there. Our kids came out and they believed until the very end."
The Leopards came right back with another score when Ohman found the end zone for a third time from five-yards out.
Louisville continued with squib kicks, and on the ensuing kickoff, Haedan Panezott scooped up the ball and found his way through the coverage to race 65 yards for the score.
"We knew they were going to squib it to Haedan (Panezott) or bloop it to Jake (Carner)," Johnson said. "We had our blocking schemes in place for either."
The Leopards answered to begin the fourth quarter on yet another Ohman touchdown run, again from five-yards out.
Salem came back with another sustained scoring drive, marching 65 yards on eight plays and ending when Jenkins' finding Crittenden on fourth-and-goal for a three-yard score.
Senior Mike Madison recovered the onside kick attempt and two plays later the Quaker cashed in again with, this time Crittenden and Jenkins hooked up for 34 yards and a score.
The no-quit Quakers kept coming and had another opportunity to put more points on the board late in the game, but a turnover on an interception looked like it was going to spell points the other way when Charles Beamer picked off Jenkins.
Crittenden wouldn't let that happen, racing from behind the play to bring down Beamer 86 yards later at the 14 yard-line and keep the points off of the board.
"That's the single most important example of how much these kids care," Johnson said. "They don't quit and I'm very proud of that. He's on the other side of the field and runs him down."
"We have to keep working and keep building. Eventually those breaks going against us are going to go our way."
Salem (0-9) travels to West Branch where they hope to play spoiler to the Warriors' NBC aspirations.