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GAME OF THE WEEK: WL-Salem strikes early, often against Ben Logan

West Liberty-Salem’s football team capitalized on Benjamin Logan’s miscues to run away with a 48-16 win over the visiting Raiders on Friday.

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West Liberty-Salem’s Taylor Cordell carries the ball down field as Benjamin Logan’s Anthoni Roberts, left, and Craig Boling attempt to make the tackle during the first half of their game Friday at WL-Salem High School. (EXAMINER PHOTO | AARON LABATT)

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“We were on offense very little tonight and scored pretty quickly when we did score,” said WL-Salem head coach Toby Smith. “We were on defense for a lot of the game.

“It was a good offensive and defensive game. Our special teams improved dramatically since last week. We didn’t give Ben Logan any short fields to work with.”

The win gives the Tigers a 2-0 start to the season, while the Raiders slide to 1-1.

WL-Salem was led by senior quarterback Riley Sims, who threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two scores on offense. He finished with 117 passing yards and 74 rushing yards.

“Riley did an excellent job,” said Smith. “He did his job out there and did what the offense dictated. He threw the ball to the right receivers because he is an intelligent kid who understands our system.

“I’m proud of all our kids, though. There was a lot of hype going into this game and our kids took care of business.”

Miscues plagued Ben Logan in the first quarter as WL-Salem took advantage of two costly errors for two of its three touchdowns.

The Raiders helped set up the Tigers’ first score when they snapped the ball over their punter’s head. WL-Salem’s Riley Sims then punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to put his team up 7-0 with 3:49 left in the opening quarter.

On Ben Logan’s next possession, the ball was fumbled and WL-Salem’s Ben Burden picked it up and rumbled 19 yards to the end zone. That gave the Tigers a 14-0 advantage with 3:02 remaining in the first stanza.

WL-Salem’s final score of the first quarter came on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Sims to Ross Hickenbottom, which put the Tigers on top 21-0.

The points continued to pile up for WL-Salem in the second quarter. The Tigers’ Taylor Cordell rushed 15 yards for a score, which gave his team a 28-0 advantage with 8:58 left until halftime.

Ben Logan found a spark on its next possession, putting together an 81-yard drive that culminated in a 3-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Brisson. The Raiders added a two-point conversion run by Brisson, but still trailed 28-8 with 7:14 left until the break.

Sims reached the end zone one more time for WL-Salem before halftime with a 14-yard touchdown run. That gave the Tigers a 35-8 lead heading into the locker room.

The scoring slowed down in the second half. WL-Salem had the only touchdown of the third quarter when Sims threw a 20-yard pass to Cordell for a 42-8 score.

The fourth quarter saw WL-Salem freshman quarterback Brandon Upton come in and complete a touchdown pass to Landon Hormann. The extra-point attempt missed and the Tigers led 48-8 with 9:42 left in the game.

Ben Logan reached the end zone for the final time with a 1-yard TD run by sophomore quarterback Mac Horton. Brisson added a two-point conversion run to make it 48-16.

In addition to the efforts of Sims, the WL-Salem offense saw Cordell rush for 38 yards on eight carries and Hickenbottom record four catches for 97 receiving yards.

Defensively for the Tigers, Grant Burden, David Branham and Layne Bowman each had a fumble recovery. Kam Evans had 10 tackles and Trevor Anderson added nine tackles.

Brisson led Ben Logan’s ground attack with 91 rushing yards on 23 carries, while Keelyn Zell had 66 rushing yards on nine carries and Mac Horton had 65 rushing yards on 16 carries.

The Raiders’ defense saw Josh Bontjes and Justin Worrell each have 11 tackles.

WL-Salem travels to Riverside on Friday for a local non-league meeting, while Ben Logan hosts Kenton Ridge in a non-league contest.

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