Turnovers were a big problem for the fifth-seeded School of the Osage Indians all season long.
That trend helped end their season last week at Salem.
Fourth-seeded Salem forced four Osage turnovers – two fumble recoveries and two interceptions – and that played a big role in the Tigers posting a 30-20 victory Friday in the first round of the Missouri Class 3 District 5 Tournament at Salem High School.
In other first-round District 5 games last week, top-seeded Blair Oaks thrashed eighth-seeded St. James 68-7; second-seeded Buffalo knocked off seventh-seeded Eldon 41-6, and sixth-seeded Logan-Rogersville upset third-seeded Springfield Catholic 26-7.
Salem, now 7-3, faces the state’s top-ranked team, 10-0 Blair Oaks, 7 p.m. Friday at Wardsville – just outside of Jefferson City – in the District 5 semifinals. In the other semifinal game Friday Buffalo hosts Rogersville.
Osage’s first two offensive possessions against Salem ended in turnovers, both interceptions of sophomore Brockton McLaughlin, making his first start at quarterback for the Indians. Osage’s regular QB, senior Drew Edwards, did not play due to disciplinary reasons.
That helped set up the Salem Tigers’ opening score, a 19-yard run by sophomore Bradlee Gover. Gover also added the PAT. That would be the only score of the first period.
“Typically whoever makes the least amount of mistakes comes out with the win,” said Salem first-year head coach Dylan Wyrick. “I thought our kids played a good defensive game – they flew around the field. (Osage) switched some things around, with a new quarterback. And our kids forced some turnovers.”
Osage, which ends the season with a 3-7 mark, closed the gap early in the second period by finishing off a drive with a four-yard TD run by senior running back James Hutchcraft. The Tigers kept the lead when Osage’s PAT attempt failed.
Midway through the second quarter the Tigers added to their advantage when junior running back Caden Camden capped a drive with a five-yard touchdown run. Gover added the PAT.
Late in the first half Salem picked up an Indian fumble at the Osage 15 yardline. However, Salem sophomore quarterback Garrett Connell had a pass picked off by Osage senior Logan Havner.
McLaughlin followed by finding senior tight end Elijah Stark behind the Tiger secondary with a pass that went for a 65-yard TD reception. Osage failed on the two-point conversion attempt, leaving the Tigers on top 14-12 at intermission.
Salem opened the second-half by turning the ball over on downs deep in Indian territory. But the Tigers ended up scoring anyway by tackling Osage in the endzone for a safety.
Getting the ball back after the safety, Salem would score again when Connell found sophomore Kaden Coffman with a seven-yard TD pass. The PAT made it 23-12.
The two teams swapped touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the first of those two scores coming on back-to-back turnovers.
Stark intercepted a Connell pass with five minutes remaining to give Osage the ball at its own 30 yardline. However, Osage then fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by Gover and returned 45 yards for a touchdown to make it 30-12.
Osage would make the final score in the final minute of play on a 24-yard TD pass from McLaughlin to senior wideout Michael Lasater.
The Indians had 358 yards of total offense compared to Salem’s 279.
Camden rushed for 75 yards on 20 carries, while Connell hit on 9-of-13 passes for 92 yards and rushed for 43 yards. Junior wideout Dawson Mock caught four passes for 59 yards.
McLaughlin passed for 227 yards and Hutchcraft rushed for 97 yards for Osage.
Salem also gave Osage a different look.
“Against Cabool (the previous game) we ran the ball a lot under center and threw it eight or nine times,” Wyrick said. “Against Osage we probably were under center one time. So we were in the gun and spread them out quite a bit to try and get their linebackers out of the box and keep them honest.
“We were able to move the ball on the ground really well. In the third quarter we were able to chew up quite a lot of the clock. Connell had a good game; he made some really good throws and had some really hard runs. He threw a couple of turnovers, but overall we were pleased with the way he played.”
Salem 30, Osage 20
Nov. 1 at Salem
First downs: SHS 16, OHS 17
Yards rushing: SHS 187, OHS 131
Yards passing: SHS 92, OHS 227
Total yards: SHS 279, OHS 358
Passing: SHS 9-13, OHS 8-19
Int. thrown: SHS 2, OHS 2
Fumbles lost: SHS 0, OHS 4
Penalties: SHS 9-135, OHS 6-39
Punting: SHS 3-37.0, OHS 2-32.0
The score by periods:
Osage 0 12 0 8-20
Salem 7 7 9 7-30
The scoring plays:
Salem: Gover 19-yard run, Gover kick.
Osage: Hutchcraft 4-yard run, kick fails.
Salem: Camden 5-yard run, Gover kick.
Osage: Stark 65-yard pass from McLaughlin, conversion fails.
Salem: Coffman 7-yard pass from Connell, Gover kick.
Salem: Gover 45-yard fumble recovery return, Gover kick.
Osage: Lasater 24-yard pass from McLaughlin, conversion.
Rushing – Salem: Camden 20 for 75, Connell 13 for 43, Gover 2 for 32, Mock 5 for 30, Coffman 2 for 7. Osage: Kinder 2 for 8, McLaughlin 6 for 17, Wood 3 for 9, Hutchcraft 16 for 97.
Passing – Salem: Connell 9-13-92-2. Osage: McLaughlin 12-22-227-2.
Receiving – Salem: Mock 4 for 59, Camden 2 for 20, Coffman 1 for 7, Gover 2 for 6. Osage: Stark 1 for 65, Lasater 1 for 24, Hutchcraft 2 for minus-2.
Tackles – Salem: Smith 6 (solo)-2 (assists), Coffman 4-4, Newman 2-3, Jarvis 2-1, White 2-1, Gover 1-2, Mock 1-6, Atchison 1-1, Chilton 1-0, Chase 1-0, T. Barton 1-0, Camden 0-3. Osage: Kinder 2-2, Creasy 1-1, Stark 3-3, Havner 5-7, Hutchcraft 7-4, Escobar 9-2, Thomas 7-2, Sallee 1-0, Lasater 2-0, McCubbin 5-2.
Interceptions – Salem: Mock 1, Campbell 1. Osage: Stark 1, Havner 1.
Fumble Recoveries – Salem: Coffman 1, Gover 1. Osage: None.
QB Sacks – Salem: None. Osage: Thomas 1 for 16.