Salem’s football opponent Friday night stretched its four-year winning streak to 50 games.
And Martinsburg (W.Va.) nearly scored 50 points in doing it.
The three-time reigning Class AAA champions from the Mountain State scored early and often, rolling up 501 yards total offense on the way to a 49-14 victory over the Spartans at Salem Stadium.
The final minute produced two unusual sights for a Salem program playing its first game ever against an out-of-state opponent.
The visiting fans serenaded the winners by singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” as the continuous clock used for margins of 35 points or more ticked off the final seconds.
“That’s a [very] good team,” Salem senior tight end and linebacker Bobby Pinello said after the Spartans’ first loss of the season.
“They were quick, well-coached. They had one hell of a line. They played hard. We played hard. There’s not much you can do.”
Salem (6-1) could do nothing with 5-foot-8, 153-pound Martinsburg receiver Jarod Bowie.
The lightning-quick Bowie knifed his way through the Spartans all night, catching two touchdown passes and rushing for another TD while accounting for 184 yards of total offense.
Bowie’s back-pedalling 7-yard TD reception from quarterback Elijah Banks gave Martinsburg a 28-7 halftime lead. He added a 17-yard TD run and caught a 25-yard TD pass from Banks in the second half.
“He’s just an insane athlete,” Banks said of his fellow senior. “Me and him have been together since our freshman year so that connection is almost 100%.”
No current Martinsburg football player has ever lost a varsity game.
The Bulldogs (8-0) brought an arsenal to Salem, as running back Naieem Kearney ran for 114 yards on 11 carries and backup Kevon Warren had TD runs of 17 and 16 yards.
Another back, Trey Sine, ran five times for 77 yards and picked off two passes in the secondary as Salem quarterback Hunter Chaney had a tough night, completing just 5 of 16 throws for 62 yards.
“They’re pretty good and we didn’t make enough plays,” first-year Salem coach Don Holter said.
Martinsburg’s spread offense piled up 332 yards rushing on 31 carries including Banks’ 2-yard run to open the scoring in the first quarter. Banks added 169 yards passing.
The Bulldogs’ quick backs had plenty of room to run and showed impressive acceleration and speed.
“One way or the other, you’re going to be in man coverage,” Holter said. “Then they can attack the perimeter and run you off and attack you. We need to do a better job getting off blocks and we will.”
Salem scored on a 1-yard TD run by sophomore Cameron Leftwich in the second quarter and a 9-yard run by Leftwich in the third quarter that closed the deficit to 28-14 with 7:53 left in the third quarter.
It took Martinsburg just four plays to answer.
Bowie had an apparent 65-yard TD reception, but he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct at the 2-yard line on the way to the end zone.
Two plays later, Bowie found a seam on a sweep and raced 17 yards for a TD.
Put the speed with linemen such as 6-foot-3, 260-pound Matthew Bednarski and Martinsburg coach David Walker has a wealth of talent at his disposal.
The Bulldogs overcame a lost fumble, an interception and a muffed punt in the first quarter and still dominated.
“I was hoping our kids would play well, because this is such a great environment,” Walker said. “A lot of tradition. I was just proud we were able to come here and play.”
Banks said he and his teammates were jacked when they saw a huge crowd on the Salem side of the field, at least for the first three quarters.
“The atmosphere was insane,” Banks said. “I’ve never seen a stadium like this before. I loved it. The atmosphere was unmatched.”
“But we come out and expect to win every single game. [Salem was] a pretty good team. We just outmanned them athlete to athlete.”