Alliance turns over Salem

ALLIANCE — Three Salem turnovers, including two in the red zone, allowed Alliance to hang around early, gain momentum and pull off a stunning 27-21 overtime upset of the Quakers in Mount Union Stadium Friday night.

“We played hard, we did a lot of things very well but it was just very poorly coached on my part and I couldn’t be more sick for my kids,” bristled Salem coach Ron Johnson.

The heartbreaking setback was Salem’s first loss of the year as they are now 4-1 overall and 0-1 in the EBC.

With the win, Alliance improved to 2-3 overall and 2-0 in the EBC.

“I told the kids I’m so proud of them, man,” said first-year Alliance coach Tim Goodman. “That was just four quarters of hard football against a quality opponent and then we go one more quarter and miss the extra point and most teams at that point would fold but we just kept coming back.”

Salem led 14-0 out of the gate, but had an interception in the Alliance end zone and the Quakers fumbled the ball away to the Aviators deep in AHS territory which came back to hurt them later.

“We hadn’t had a turnover all year and we turned it over three times,” Johnson said. “That’s just inexcusable. That just can’t happen. We couldn’t have shot ourselves in the foot more.”

“That just speaks to our kids,” said Goodman of his opportunistic defense. “We challenged our kids before the game that they (the Quakers) have a heck of an offense over there and we challenged our kids on defense to make plays and they answered the call.”

The Quakers still led 14-7 at halftime but those lost scoring opportunities because of miscues really hurt.

The Aviators went up 21-14 in the third quarter but Salem stormed back with a fourth-quarter score with 7:18 left and the game eventually went to overtime after Alliance’s quarterback-kicker Brendan Zurbrugg was just short on a 37-yard field goal attempt as time expired in regulation.

“Credit them (the Aviators), they did a great job of putting together a drive at the end of regulation and almost had a chance to win it,” said Johnson.

Alliance scored two plays into the extra session when running back Kayden Davis sprinted 20 yards down the left side. But the PAT boot was wide left as AHS led 27-21 and Salem prepared for its chance on offense in OT.

The Quakers got down to the Alliance one on a 9-yard run by Salem quarterback Jackson Johnson on third down, but the Quakers were penalized for holding, pushing the ball back to the 19. Salem then had incompletions on its following two passes, the last one of a crossing pattern in the end zone on fourth down as Alliance celebrated the upset.

“This is such a disappointment but we’re going to respond,” said Johnson. “There’s a lot of football to go. Going undefeated is hard to do and we just have to have to be 1-0 next week. I need to do a much better job and we need to get this thing going.”

Salem quarterback Jackson Johnson completed 22-of-31 passes for 201 yards but was picked off twice. Austin Sinkovich led all Salem receivers with five catches for 66 yards.

Jackson Johnson also rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries and running back Dominic Maniscalco added 91 yards on 14 carries.

Alliance was led by sophomore quarterback Brendan Zurbrugg — the son of former Michigan quarterback Chris Zurbrugg — who was 24-of-26 passing for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

Salem wasted no time setting the tempo early, going long distance on its first two drives of the night to score.

The Quakers took the opening kickoff and marched 66 yards to score when Maniscalco scampered 8 yards around right end. Hayden Tomidajewicz added the PAT kick and Salem led 7-0 at the 9:06 mark of the first quarter.

After stopping Alliance, the Quakers’ offense went to work again, marching 89 yards, capped by 65-yard dash to pay dirt by Jackson Johnson. Tomidajewicz added the PAT boot and Salem quickly led 14-0 at the 5:49 mark of the first.

But Alliance cut the deficit in half on a double pass from quarterback Brendan Zurbrugg to running back Kayden Davis on the left side who then launched a 46-yard scoring toss. Zurbrugg added the PAT kick and the Aviators pulled within 14-7 at the 5:35 mark of the second quarter.

Salem had two other marches deep into Alliance territory that were stopped on downs at the 20 and another on an incomplete pass in the end zone to end the half.

Salem led 238-141 in offense at half.

Alliance added two third-quarter scores on a 10-yard pass from Zurbrugg to Louie Antonosanti and an 80-yard scoring strike from Zurbrugg to Davis, giving AHS a 21-14 lead.

But Salem tied it in the fourth when Blaize Exline scored from a yard out and kicker Hayden Tomidajewicz added the kick, tying things at 21-21 and setting the stage for overtime.

“I’m so proud of our guys,” said Goodman. “The game ball goes to the defensive staff.”

Game notes

¯ The Quakers defeated the Aviators 20-13 last season.

¯ Salem continues Eastern Buckeye Conference action next Friday when the Quakers host winless Minerva (0-5).

“It’s just so disappointing to have a performance on a night like this when we really should be peaking and getting ready for the conference and we didn’t get it done and I feel bad for the kids,” Johnson said. We’ve got to be 1-0 next week.”

SALEM: 14-0- 7-0-0–21

ALLIANCE: 0-7-14-0-6 –27


S–Dominic Maniscalco, 8 run, 9:06 1st (Hayden Tomidajewicz kick

S–Jackson Johnson, 64 run, 5:49 1st (Hayden Tomidajewicz kick)

A–Zumbar, 46 pass from Kayden Davis, 5:35 2nd (Brendan Zurbrugg kick)

A–Antonosanti, 10 pass from Brendan Zurbrugg, 7:30 3rd (Brendan Zurbrugg kick)

A–Kayden Davis, 80 pass from Brendan Zurbrugg, 3:49 3rd (Brendan Zurbrugg kick)

S–Blaize Exline, 1 run, 7:18 4th (Hayden Tomidajewicz kick)

A–Kayden Davis, 20 run, OT (kick failed)



First downs 25 20

Total yards 423 390

Rushes-yards 36-221 24-78

Passing 202 312

Comp-Att-Int 22-31-2 24-36-0

Fumbles-Lost 3-1 3-1

Punts-Avg. 2-45 2-44

Penalties-Yards 5-45 4-30



RUSHING–Salem, Blaize Exline 5-28, Dominic Maniscalco 14-91, Jackson Johnson 17-109; Alliance, Kayden Davis, 12-63 .

PASSING–Salem, Jackson Johnson 22-31-221-0-2; Alliance, Brendan Zurbrugg 24-36-312-2-0.

RECEIVING–Salem, Blaize Exline 5-40, Austin Sinkovich 5-66, Brock Young 4-52, Caden Swiger 1-4; Alliance, Kayden Davis 7-70, Gage Ford 4-56, Adam Zumbar 1-46, Rahmir Hawkins 2-20, Carter Bugara 5-25, Louie Antonosanti 1-10 .

INTERCEPTIONS–Alliance, Carter Bugara, Jones.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.50/week.

Subscribe Today