|Salem pounds Corydon Central in sectional opener|
By Alan Stewart
Salem senior Seth Hobson was 11 for 16 passing for 273 yards and threw for five touchdowns while adding a rushing touchdown as the visiting Lions cruised to the second round of Class 3A Sectional 31 play Friday night with a 49-20 victory in Corydon.
The win – the first tourney victory since the current senior class of Lions were 8th graders, and the first sectional triumph at Corydon since Salem head coach R.J. Hartsfield was the team’s hero in an 16-0 upset victory over the Panthers in 2003 – was enough for Hartsfield to do a backflip afterward, bringing whoops and hollers from team members who howled all the way to the locker room. The “W” also guaranteed a winning season for the Lions, the last coming in 2009 (6-5).
Evan Brishaber was the biggest beneficiary of Hobson’s solid evening, marking five catches for 152 yards and four trips to the land of six.
“Defensively they gave us some different looks … it’s just really hard to prepare for a team that you don’t know what they are going to give you. They’ve played a lot of different defenses this year. But I think tonight proved that it’s probably not a good idea to put somebody right over top of (Brishaber) and think you are going to cover him,” Hartsfield said.
“He’s a fast track kid and we kind of lick our chops when we see somebody line up in his face.”
With his performance, Hobson set the Lions’ career passing record and set up a home matchup this week against defending sectional champion and No. 9-ranked Brownstown Central (9-1), which pasted Brown County, 62-0. The last time Brownstown and Salem hooked up resulted in a 49-12 victory for the Brabes.
Salem (6-4) dominated the passing game Friday evening, throwing for 298 yards to Corydon’s 65, while the Panthers held the edge in the rushing attack, grinding out 193 yards to Salem’s 83.
“Our kids played well and played hard and we talked about it before the game that if we could do three things – if we could execute well, if we could play with maximum effort and if we could play physical football – we could win,” Hartsfield said.
The Panthers (3-7) were put behind the 8-ball early when Blayton Miller picked off Alec Saulman’s first pass attempt of the game. Three plays later Hobson connected on the first of four TD passes to Brishaber from 19 yards out for the opening quarter’s only score.
The hosts used a steady diet of Austin Kopp to start the second period and tied the ball game on a 16 yard run from Kopp out of the Wildcat offense. A Gavin Nuanez kick made it 7-all with 7:30 left in the half.
That’s when the Lions went on a tear.
Hobson connected with Brishaber for two scores from 62 yards and a corner route from the nine-yard line and Clayton Ratts from 25 yards away for another touchdown to hold a 28-7 lead at halftime.
The Hobson-Brishaber Express made one more stop in the third quarter a 46-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown to push the lead to 34-7 with 10:38 left in the stanza.
Unlike the prior meeting a couple of weeks ago, Salem made sure the rally attempt was short-lived, taking just four plays for Hobson to find the end zone on his own for a 42-14 advantage at the end of three.
Each club tacked on a score in the final period, with Saulman finding Braydon Weathers from 23 yards out, and Salem backup quarterback Brandon Corbin completing a 25-yard pass to Blayton Miller for the touchdown.
Kory Akers carried the ground game for Salem with 16 rushes for 57 yards, with Hobson adding 31 yards on the ground.
Rounding out the receiving corps were Ratts (two catches, 48 yards), Miller (two catches 43 yards) and Derrek Cornett (two catches, 30 yards).
Salem was flagged for five penalties for 50 yards and Corydon was hit with six infractions for 55 yards.
Kopp rushed for 136 yards and had two scores while Saulman was 5-12 for 65 yards passing and had 57 yards rushing in their final games as a Panther.
The winner of Friday night’s Salem-Brownstown Central game will take on the winner of the other Sectional 31 semifinal, either No. 6-ranked Southridge (9-1) or North Harrison (8-2).
Salem 7 21 14 7 — 49