SALEM — Salem marched onto the field for the second half of last night's game with Concord a different team, but not for the better.
Taking a 13-point lead into the locker room, Concord scored 35 points in the second half to secure a 42-29 upset win over the Blue Devils. The loss puts defending champion Salem's playoff hopes in doubt.
"They obviously made more plays than we did," said Salem head coach Jack Gati. "Give (Concord) all the credit in the world. They took away what we do best and they just ran the ball."
After Salem went three-and-out to start the second half, Concord's offense took over, finding the end zone twice in a 13-second span on consecutive offensive snaps to start the third quarter.
Quarterback Graham McIntire scrambled 53 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. After recovering a squib kick, the Crimson Tide handed off to Tolbert Nemo, who sprinted 23 yards to give Concord a 21-20 lead that it would never relinquish.
On its next possession, the Crimson Tide marched down the field 60 yards in eight plays, capped with an 18-yard touchdown run by Nemo.
"We couldn't stop them," said Gati, a former highly successful head coach at Concord. "They were making big plays on big downs."
Salem had its chances. But Concord converted six of seven third downs in the second half.
That has been the case much of the year as Salem, the heavy preseason favorite, has struggled mightily on defense, giving up a whopping 278 points in nine games (30.9 points a game).
"They ran up the middle well on us," Gati said. "They did a lot of things that other teams just haven't done to us. Sure, some teams have scored points on us but they did it with ease."
Concord's defensive front — there were often eight in the box — dominated Salem's offensive line.
After terrific first halves, star backs Jerickson Fedrick (153 rushing yards, 4 TDs on the night) and Max Jacques (117 rushing yards) were neutralized in the second half.
Concord 42, Salem 29
Concord (4-5): 7 0 21 14 — 42
Salem (5-4):14 6 6 3 — 29
S — Jerickson Fedrick 2 run (Christopher Saulnier kick), 5:53
S — Fedrick 47 pass from Matthew Cannone (Saulnier kick), 2:47
C — Tolbert Nemo 15 run (Chad Woods kick), 0:40
S — Fedrick 4 run (kick failed), 9:12
C — Graham McIntire 53 run (Woods kick), 10:17
C — Nemo 23 run (Woods kick), 10:04
C — Nemo 18 (Woods kick), 4:49
S — Fedrick 80 run (rush failed), 4:35
C — Nemo 1 run (Woods kick), 11:38
S — Saulnier 22 field goal, 6:39
C — Nemo 24 run (Woods kick), 2:12
RUSHING: Salem (37-251) — Jerickson Fedrick 15-153, Max Jacques 18-117, Matt Cannone 4-(-19); Concord (43-293) — Tolbert Nemo 26-164, Graham McIntire 16-132, Parker Callaghan 1-(-3).
PASSING: Salem — Matt Cannone 4-8-0, 81; Concord — Graham McIntire 9-12-0, 120
RECEIVING: Salem — Fedrick 1-47, Jared Matthews 1-31, Michael Lorenz 2-15; Concord — Chad Woods 5-85, Nemo 1-25, Callaghan 3-10