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When the Tigers scored halfway through the second quarter to take a 6-0 lead, it was the first time the Bears had trailed this season.
Salem’s first half score came on a 1-yard run by Sammy Ibrahim. The 2-point conversion attempt failed when Junior Rictor’s pass was intercepted by Dexter Fish in the end zone.
Salem’s second touchdown came on a 16-yard keeper by quarterback Ricktor just before the end of the third quarter.
The Tigers’ touchdown completed a 10-play drive and came with 39 seconds left on the third quarter clock.
Salem’s Johnnie Boyd ran for the 2-point conversion but a flag brought the play back and backed the ball up to the 8-yard line. From there, Braxton Parker would attempt to kick the PAT, but the ball missed its mark.
The game began with Ava taking the opening kickoff only to punt the ball away after three plays from scrimmage. Salem’s first possession ended much the same way.
Cody Wallace returned Salem’s punt to the Ava 37-yard line. The drive continued as Kyle Clinkingbeard earned Ava a first down on the Salem side of the 50, then quarterback Ben Loge completed a pass to Jesse Johnson for a first down at the Salem 38.
Clinkingbeard picked up another Ava first down at the Tigers’ 25-yard line, but on 4th-and-7 at the 22, a Loge pass to Johnson in the end zone fell incomplete and Salem took over on downs with 3:08 left in the first quarter.
Salem took the ball all the way to the Ava 24-yard line, but on 3rd-and-4 Salem fumbled and Chance Deal recovered for the Bears at the Ava 20.
As the game moved into the second quarter, Caleb Miles rushed for a first down at the Ava 31 and Ava picked up another at the 41, before Loge passed to Miles at the 39 of Salem. An Ava penalty brought that play back, however, and the Bears turned the ball over when Ben Adams intercepted a Loge pass to give the Tigers the ball at the Ava 47 with 9:23 left in the second quarter.
That turnover would set up Salem’s first score that came at 6:01 in the second period.
The third quarter began with Salem, holding a slim 6-0 lead, taking the kickoff. The hard-hitting Ava defense forced another fumble by Salem, and although the Tigers recovered they were looking at a 3rd-and-18. Salem would punt the ball away on fourth down, and the high, short punt would allow the Bears to start their next series at their own 46 yard line.
The Bears moved the ball into Salem territory, but a holding penalty on the Bears forced a fourth down punting situation near midfield.
The Bears surprised the Tigers by faking the punt, and Kevin Philpott threw a strike to Cody Wallace for a 20-yard completion, to give the Bears a first down at the Salem 19-yard line. Clinkingbeard would get the ball down to the Salem 12, but came up short of the first down and the Bears would turn the ball over there to the Tigers with 4:32 left in the third quarter.
The ensuing drive would result in Salem’s second touchdown run that came with 39 seconds left in the period.
Ava had 170 yards rushing and 55 yards passing for total offense of 225 yards against the Tigers.
The hard-hitting Ava defense forced three Salem fumbles, two of which were recovered by the Bears. Dexter Fish also had two interceptions for Ava.
Clinkingbeard carried 27 times for 125 yards and Miles had 10 carries for 38 yards.
Loge completed five passes for 35 yards and threw three interceptions. Philpott had the one completion to Wallace for 20 yards.
Johnson had one reception for six yards, Chance Boyd caught two passes for 27 yards, and Miles had a reception for two yards.
Dillon Adams was Ava’s leading tackler with 12. Deal and Jeff Smalley had 11 tackles each. Deal and Philpott each had a tackle for loss.
This week the Bears are home once again but the task doesn’t get any easier as the Bruins anticipate the arrival of the Mtn. View-Liberty Eagles.
Liberty is undefeated on the year and could well be the best team the Bears will have faced thus far in the season.
The Bears will be home once again on Oct. 14 for the first of three district games with Buffalo coming to town. Oct. 14 will be Senior Night at Harlan Stadium.