Cougars Battle Salem in Homecoming Contest
This year the theme for RHS' football homecoming was "watch us whip", but Friday night at Temerian Field a large crowd of spectators looked on as the Salem Greyhounds beat the boys in blue, 48-6.
The game proved to be a tough loss for the Cougars, as Salem's Bailey Benedict and Spencer Love were up to the challenge. Penalties and incomplete passes also plagued the Rector squad on the night.
The visitors jumped out to an early lead, with Love scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter. But, the Greyhounds were unable to convert on their PAT's, as they jumped out to a 24-0 lead by midway through the first.
The lone bright spot for the Cougars came moments later, as Sam Westbrook caught the ensuing kickoff and sprinted 80 yards for the only Rector touchdown of the night. The score came with 4:38 to go in the first quarter, but the extra point conversion was no good as the score moved to 24-6.
The Cougars continued to battle, but Love managed to get another touchdown with a minute left in the quarter. This time Rector's Chase Jackson deflected the conversion attempt, and the score stood at 30-6.
Throughout the remainder of the first half the two teams battled, with neither able to gain an advantage. But, the Greyhounds found the end zone once more in the frame, as they punched it in from five yards out late in the first half.
Moments later Salem seemed poised to strike again, as Benedict ran it in from the 46-yard-line on the following possession. But, a holding penalty on the Greyhounds negated the run, and the ball was returned to the 37.
The Cougar defense made several good plays to slow the Greyhound offense late in the first, but Salem put together a five play 63-yard drive which ended with yet another Benedict touchdown. This set the halftime score at 42-6.
On the first drive of the second half the Greyhounds put together a hard-fought 58-yard drive, pushing it across for a touchdown on four plays. This time the Salem special teams were whistled for a false start, and the conversion attempt failed. This set the final score at 48-6 in the third quarter of play.
Leading the Cougar offensive effort was Garrett Buck, with 126 yards rushing, while Westbrook's 80-yard touchdown return was the highlight of the night.
"We've got to play better and get back to blocking and tackling," coach Dave Hendrix said of the contest. The Cougar coach also noted his team fought hard, but seemed discouraged after Salem jumped to the early lead. "We've got to change our mindset," Hendrix said of the effort. "Instead of putting our heads down we have to stay up and keep fighting."
As for the Cougars, they have yet another difficult task at hand Friday evening as they're set to travel to Lepanto to take on the East Poinsett County Warriors in 2A-3 conference play. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.