Salem managed just two wins in Head Coach Mo Moriarity’s first season in 2011.
One season later, the Lions have doubled that win total, with the most recent victory coming, 27-6 at North Harrison Friday.
After sophomore quarterback Jordan McNeely left the game with a shoulder injury, Salem senior Klayton Dougherty came into the game and provided a spark for his team.
Dougherty took over under center with two minutes left in the third quarter and by the end of the game he was the team’s leading rusher with 90yards. He was also tied for touchdowns and scored again off a two-point conversion.
The game was close for a while.
Early in the second quarter North Harrison quarterback Jack Phelps converted a third down with a completion to Steven House for 20 yards.
After that, Austin Nevil ran the football in for the touchdown and a 6-0 lead for the Cougars.
It didn’t take long for salem to answer. They scored on a four-yard touchdown run by Andrew Maudlin.
That’s the only points either team could muster until early in the fourth quarter.
Dougherty finally ended the drought when he scored from two-yards out.
Salem got the two-point conversion through the air when Dougherty connected with Kody Kramber, that gave them the lead for good, 14-6.
The score opened the flood gates for the Lions.
They added two more scores, one from a long run by Maudlin and another off a run by Dougherty that put the game away.
Salem Head Coach Mo Moriarity applauded Dougherty for sticking with after being replaced at quaterback by McNeely mid-way through the season.
“Klayton played really, really well,” Moriarity said. “He did a really good job for us.
“It’s been difficult for Klayton, but he hung in there. His opportunity came, he responded and let us to victory.”
The Lions improved to 4-6 and will have a home game against Brownstown Central, which is 9-1.
The Braves beat Salem 31-7 on Sept. 7.
Moriarity said both teams feel like they have improved since then.
“The tournament is all about surviving and advancing,” Moriarity said. “If you win Friday you get to keep playing. We are happy to be able to keep playing.”
Moriarity said a key to turning things around this time against Brownstown will be to keep them from getting off to a fast start.
“They are well-coached and they start fast,” he said. “They got up on Corydon 14-0 early and they got up early on us in the first meeting. We can’t let them jump out early in the game. That’s their M.O. and we can’t let that happen. We’ve got to keep the score close and have a chance at the end.”
As of Monday morning Moriarity said he wasn’t sure of the status of McNeely Friday.
As for the Cougars it is the end of the road. They end the season 2-8 under first-year Head Coach Mark Williamson.
Special correspondent Simon Baumgartle contributed to this story.