Salem got a couple of touchdowns and a perfect night of extra points from sophomore Bradlee Gover as the Tigers beat Osage 30-20 in the first round of the Missouri Class 3 District 5 Tournament Friday night in Salem.
The prize? Salem, a young team that has surprised a lot of people with a 7-3 record, travels to Jefferson City next Friday to play Blair Oaks, the state’s undefeated and top-ranked Class 3 team, in the semifinals.
“I can tell you this. You play to win the game and you practice to win the game,” Salem first-year coach Dylan Wyrick said after Friday’s game. “It won’t be, go out and have a good time and go out to play your best. We won’t take any days off this week. We will set the bar up there. We are going to Jeff City to try to win a ballgame.”
Wyrick said the Tigers played their best overall game of the season Friday against the Indians, 3-7. Salem got a pair of interceptions on the first two Osage drives, and seemed to keep the Indians off balance the rest of the night.
Gover, who was celebrating his birthday Friday, got a touchdown on a reverse and kicked the extra point to make it 7-0. He also scored the Tiger’s final touchdown when he returned a fumble for a score in the fourth quarter and kicked the extra point to make it 30-12, pretty much sealing the win.
“Yeah, we got some turnovers,” Wyrick said. “We picked off the first two, got another fumble and safety, and got the TD fumble recovery from Gover. At that point (the fumble recovery), nothing really surprises me with this group of kids. They are football players and go getters. They are football aware. I was definitely excited, but I wasn’t surprised by what happened. They’ve been doing stuff like that all season; A young group of kids pulling things out of the hat. They are risk takers. It pays off sometimes.”
Salem got a second-quarter scoring run from junior Caden Camden and extra point to make it 14-6, then gave up a touchdown pass with no time left on the clock and it was 14-12.
In the third quarter Salem got a safety and quickly followed that with a touchdown pass from sophomore Garrett Connell to another sophomore Kaden Coffman, and suddenly the Tigers led 23-12. In the fourth quarter Gover’s TD and extra point made it 30-12. Osage scored once more, but an onside kick was recovered by Salem.
“All around I think definitely this is the best our kids had played this year, both sides of the ball,” Wyrick said. “Even though we turned it over twice, it was our best offensive game. Our offensive line was the best they’ve been. They won up front against a team that is really good up front. Things are starting to click.”
The will need to click on all cylinders against Blair Oaks, 10-0 and a 68-7 winner over winless St. James Friday night in the district. The Falcons are giving up seven points a game and have given up a touchdown or less in their last seven games. They average scoring 45 points a game.
Friday’s winner will play for the district title Nov. 15 against the winner of next Friday’s Buffalo vs. Logan-Rogersville game. Buffalo beat Eldon 41-6 Friday, while Logan-Rogersville beat Springfield Catholic 26-7.