The Cardinals took advantage of an early break for a 7-3 win.
By JOHN BUTERA
SALEM -- In football, one team sometimes seems to have the other's number.
It's been the Pittsburgh Steelers over coach Butch Davis' Cleveland Browns. It's been Oklahoma over Texas. It's been Notre Dame over Navy.
On Friday night, it was Canfield over Salem.
The Cardinals beat Salem 7-3 in the Metro Athletic Conference to run their winning streak over the Quakers to 14 games.
Quakers lead statistics
Salem (5-3, 3-2) outrushed the Cards 83-63, outpassed them 137-51 and had a total offensive edge of 220-114. Besides that, they even held an edge in first downs, 9-6.
So what gives?
"Our defense was just unbelievable," Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky said. "What a wonderful game plan by our coaches."
The defense of which Pavlansky was speaking stopped Salem three times on key fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter.
Salem's first fourth-down effort of that final session was a fourth-and-two at the Canfield 34 where the Quakers threw an incomplete pass.
Next on a fourth-and-one at the Cards 27, Canfield (5-3, 3-2) stuffed the run. Finally, the hosts faced fourth-and-nine at the Cards 36. The Quakers tried some trickery by handing off twice before pitching the ball back to quarterback Mike Kolich, whose nifty scramble came up two yards short.
"They ran that trick play," added Pavlansky, "and we had the right areas [covered] so we didn't get tricked."
Salem coach Doug Phillips added, "We have some trick plays, and maybe that wasn't the time to call it, but what the heck? It came down to inches tonight. Maybe we should have called that play earlier."
Canfield got the game's biggest break in the first quarter when a bad snap on Salem's punt resulted in the Cards getting a first-and-goal at the five.
Three plays later, on the second quarter's initial call from scrimmage, Canfield's Sean Baker covered the final three yards for the game's lone touchdown.
Using a 23-yard field goal from Bryan Wright, Salem pulled within 7-3, but the Quakers had been hoping for more as they had a first down on the 11 earlier in the drive.
"It came down to inches tonight," Phillips echoed. "That and mistakes -- mistakes that were hard to overcome. Plus, we gave them that gift on the three-yard line."
14 straight losses
Questioned about Salem's 14 straight losses to Canfield, Phillips added, "In the past, it might have been a mental thing. But not with this team. They understand what it takes to win."
Salem entered the game averaging 24 points, and Pavlansky thought the game would feature more scoring.
"I'm sure the weather had something to do with that," he said. "But I thought it would be up and down the field with maybe three touchdowns."