SALEM — Salem had little trouble making it 31 consecutive victories over the Houston football team.
Salem scored six times in the first half and cruised to a 40-6 victory against the Tigers Friday night.
It has been more than three decades since Houston (0-2, 0-2 South Central Association) last defeated their Tiger counterparts from Dent County.
HHS coach David Williams has only been around for two of those meetings.
“That’s kind of hard to believe,” Williams said of Salem’s winning streak. “Salem has had a lot of good teams the last 20-25 years. Right now, they’re just way ahead of us athletically.”
There’s no secret to Salem’s run-oriented game plan. Williams said the team runs a handful of plays at most. But his Tigers couldn’t stop them.
Salem (1-1, 1-1 SCA) racked up 400 rushing yards — a big chunk on consecutive 74- and 71-yard scoring runs by quarterback J.R. Rictor — in its wishbone attack.
Salem ran the ball on 33 of its 34 plays. The lone pass was a run play that Rictor shoveled away to escape a large loss as he was wrapped up by a defender.
“We thought we had a good defensive scheme,” Williams said, “and we didn’t execute it.”
Williams pointed out Salem’s second drive — an incomplete pass and runs of 3 and minus-2 yards leading to a punt — as evidence.
“We showed we could do it,” Williams said. “It doesn’t fly with me that it didn’t work, because it did. We had the guys covering the plays we wanted to cover, and they just didn’t do it. That’s very disappointing.”
Houston quarterback Weston Walker completed 10 of his 18 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. The Tigers managed just 26 rushing yards on 32 attempts.
The bright spot for the Tigers was the play of freshman Ty Wilkins. The Raymondville native, who had never played organized football, had a 4-yard rush in the fourth quarter and hauled in a 19-yard pass from Walker late in the fourth quarter to account for Houston’s lone points.
Wilkins had played special teams only in the season opener against Cabool.
“He is a pretty athletic kid,” Williams said. “It’s just a matter of learning. He may be somebody that can help us down the road.”
Salem score 20 points in the first and second quarters to take a commanding halftime advantage. The rest of the game was played with the turbo clock — running time when a team leads by at least 35 — until Wilkin’s touchdown reception with 1 minute, 18 seconds remaining.
Johnnie Boyd started Salem’s scoring with an 11-yard touchdown run on the fifth play of the game.
Sammy Ibrahim made it 13-0 — the PAT was blocked — with a 40-yard rushing score on Salem’s third possession. Three plays after a Houston fumble, Boyd scored from 14 yards away to make it 20-0.
Rictor, who missed the season opener with a concussion, broke loose for a 74-yard score on a keeper early in the second quarter. Two plays after a Houston punt, Rictor sprinted up the middle for a 71-yard touchdown on an identical play as his first score.
Austin Rogers’ 1-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds left in the half put Salem ahead by 40 points.
“I didn’t like what I saw at all,” Williams said. “I didn’t think we played hard — again. I thought we were past that.”
With both team’s younger players on the field in the waning moments, Houston put together a 52-yard scoring drive. Sophomore Tanner Smith had a 6-yard run, and Walker followed with a 14-yard rush to move the ball to the Salem 19-yard line. Two plays later, Walker rolled to his right and hit Wilkins for his first career touchdown.
The Tigers gained 52 of their 94 total yards on their final possession.
“We didn’t block well on offense,” Williams said. “We didn’t block hardly at all in the first half.”
It contributed to the latest in Salem’s winning streak that stands at 31 games and counting.
“We’d like to see that end at some point,” Williams said.
SALEM 40, HOUSTON 6
SAL — Boyd 11 run (Adams kick), 9:49.
SAL — Ibrahim 40 run (kick failed), 5:16.
SAL — Boyd 14 run (Adams kick), 0:32.
SAL — Rictor 74 run (Adams kick), 10:19.
SAL — Rictor 71 run (kick failed), 6:21.
SAL — Rogers 1 run (Adams kick), 0:44.
HOU — Wilkins 19 pass from Walker (kick failed), 1:18.
RUSHING — Houston, TaSmith 3-9, Miller 10-7, TySmith 2-5, Foster 2-5, Filkins 1-4, Bell 1-0, Walker 13-(minus-4). Salem, Rictor 4-149, Adams, 5-75, Ibrahim 6-73, Boyd 4-43, Floyd 1-29, Rogers 7-23, Agers 3-6, Morton 2-1, Conway 1-1.
PASSING — Houston, Waker 10-18-0 68. Rictor 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING — Houston, Barker 4-31, Wilkins 1-19, Bell 2-11, TSmith 1-6, TySmith 1-4, Stigall 1-(minus-3). Salem, none.