A game that had been billed as one of the top games in the South Central Association this year turned into a rout as the Mountain Grove Panthers stayed undefeated with a 48-7 victory over the Salem Tigers.
Things didn’t seem so certain, though, early on for Mountain Grove. On the second play from scrimmage, Salem quarterback Brady Floyd carried the ball 78 yards for a touchdown. With less than a minute having been run off the clock and a successful extra point by Salem, the Panthers found themselves down early 7-0.
Mountain Grove would answer Salem on the ensuing drive, setup by a 41 yard run by Bobby Otwell, as Tyler Collins would score from two yards out. Fredrick Kirkhaug would kick his first of six extra points on the night to tie the score, 7-7.
Following a Salem punt, Mountain Grove would once again put together a time consuming drive capped by Collins second touchdown of the night on a 1-yard plunge. The extra point made the score 14-7, Mountain Grove.
A fumble on Salem’s next drive would setup yet another Panther touchdown. Following the fumble recovery at the Salem 48, Collins would take a handoff from Otwell and outrun the Salem defense for his third touchdown with 1:28 remaining in the first quarter.
After a surprise onside kick, the Panthers would extend their lead to 28-7 on an Otwell 1-yard run.
Otwell would continue to find success running the football against the Salem defense on the Panthers next drive as he raced to a 69-yard score midway through the second quarter. Following the extra point the Salem Tigers found themselves down 35-7.
With less than three minutes remaining in the first half, Salem would once again fumble. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Mountain Grove would again score, this time on a 12 yard run by Gavin Bolin with less than two minutes remaining in the half, sending the teams to the locker room with Mountain Grove leading 41-7.
Coming out of halftime the Panther offense would go back to work. A little trickery would setup the next Panther touchdown when Collins, taking a pitch from Otwell, completed a 24 yard pass to Seth Akers on the Salem one yard line. From there Collins would score his fourth touchdown of the night, making the score 48-7 in favor of Mountain Grove.
That touchdown would be the last of the game, as junior varsity squads from both teams began coming into the game.
Otwell would finish with 176 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Along with his four touchdowns, Collins would carry for 126 yards.
The Panthers defense would hold Salem to only 51 yards of total offense in the second half, while the Mountain Grove offense racked up 383 yards total, with over 320 of those coming on the ground.
With the victory Mountain Grove secures at least a share of their 38th SCA title and moves one step closer to a number one seed in Class 2, District 3.
Next week the Panthers host 2-5 Houston, while Salem prepares for a big game against the Liberty Eagles at home.