Salem Blue Devils Football '06

Fri, Sep 15, 2006 07:00 PM @ Londonderry
Team Final
Salem 34
Londonderry 24
Londonderry quarterback Craig Enos is sacked by Salem defensive end Peter Emerzian Friday night in Londonderry. » Jarrod Thompson, Staff Photographer

Pumped-up Blue Devils charge back to down Londonderry

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Monday, August, 27 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

LONDONDERRY, N.H. | Salem coach Jack Gati may seem like a low-key, rather reserved coach, but he can be vocal, and he can fire up a team when needed.

Trailing 17-0 at halftime before more than 2,500 fans at Londonderry last night, Gati did just that, and the unbeaten Blue Devils (3-0) responded in a big way, scoring three straight touchdowns in the third quarter on their way to a rousing 34-24 victory.

"Coach Gati knows how to get us going," said Salem running back Shane McMahon. "He had a good speech | he was talking a lot about being tough | and we were ready to go."

McMahon was certainly motivated as he rushed 8 times for 58 yards and two TDs in the second half and caught three passes for 64 yards. But he had plenty of help from an invigorated offensive line and a defense that held the run-oriented Lancers to four yards on the ground after intermission.

"It was a great win for us," said the 29th-year head coach. "I told the kids that I've never had a team come back from 17 points playing against as good a team as Londonderry. This is as good as it gets."

Salem received the opening kickoff of the second half and promptly went 79 yards in seven plays, the key run being a 51-yard scamper by Kevin Sledge (10 carries, 85 yards) and the score coming on a 1-yard plunge by Jim Stewart.

Four plays later, Salem got the ball again and went 59 yards in six plays with McMahon sweeping from six yards out for the TD.

And, after six more plays, Salem got the ball on Londonderry's 33-yard line following a Lancer mental error. This time the Blue Devils needed just two plays to find paydirt as Dan Frasca motored into the end zone from four yards out to make it 21-17. That had followed a 29-yard pass play from Hal Landers to McMahon, making it 21-17.

Londonderry regained the lead early in the fourth quarter, 24-21, on a beautiful 30-yard pass from Craig Enos to Michael Smilgis (5 catches, 76 yards).

But Salem came right back with a 75-yard drive, the key play being a fourth-down 28-yard run by Jon Emerzian on an apparent punt. That set up a 22-yard TD run by McMahon, who somehow slipped three tackles on the play.

"That was not a planned (fake punt) play," said Gati. "He did that once on the JVs. The snap was a little low and I think he had visions of a big run. It worked out great." Ahead 27-24, Salem clinched it with a 54-yard interception return by Landers to account for the final score.

Among the defensive heroes for Salem were cornerback Peter Allain, Chris Sousa, Jared Ciriello and Dave Richardson. For Londonderry (1-2), Ryan Lambert helped get his team to a halftime lead with a 2-yard run in the second quarter, fueled by a 29-yard option pass from Scott Worth to Smilgis. Following a 27-yard field goal by Brian Cantella, Lambert ended the half with a bang, recovering a fumble and returning it 45 yards for a score with 15 seconds to play. Andrew Rogers and Cody Rideout were among the defensive leaders for the Lancers and senior defensive back Mark Colantonio had an exceptional game. He had a 46-yard interception return, a 43-yard punt return, a 48-yard kickoff return and, overall, returned four kicks for 131 yards.

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