SALEM — The hotly contested game between Salem Hills and Desert Hills came down to mere inches late in the game Friday night when Salem Hills converted on a fourth down, keeping the ball in their hands and sealing the Skyhawk 17-10 victory over the Thunder of Desert Hills.
With 2:03 left on the clock, Salem Hills found itself on its 45-yard line, facing a fourth-and-3 and trying desperately to hold onto a seven-point lead. That’s when Skyhawk quarterback Jorgen Olsen told his coach that he could get those 3 yards if he would let him run the ball.
“I knew we needed those yards to win the game, and I knew I could get them," he said. "I told my coach that he could trust me, so I took the snap and pushed my way through.”
And push he did, through several Thunder defenders landing mere inches over the first-down marker. The Skyhawks held the ball until just 10 seconds remained on the clock, allowing Desert Hills one final toss that was batted down by Skyhawk defenders.
Salem Hills grabbed the lead 7-0 midway through the first quarter when Olsen hit wide receiver Tom Wilson slashing through the middle from 12 yards out. That possession came off the first of two picks from Salem’s Blake Hoffheins.
Desert Hills stormed back later in the first on an impressive 75-yard run by senior running back Saul Andrus, who found a hole and sprinted to the house, tying the score at 7-7.
Salem Hills struck again in the second quarter with a 37-yard field goal by Luke Clawson, putting the Skyhawks up 10-7 at the break.
In the second half, Desert Hills countered with a balanced ground and aerial attack, forcing Salem to come up with big defensive plays including two more interceptions and a blocked field-goal attempt.
On offense, the Skyhawks showed their grit with a fake punt that gave them a crucial first down in the fourth quarter and then extended their lead to 10 when Olsen dashed around the end and into the end zone from 10 yards out to make the score 17-10 going into the fourth. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter due to a gutsy defensive effort by both squads.
Salem Hills head coach Harry Schwenke attributed the win to the tremendous effort his team gave.
“They also had to learn about fighting through adversity," he said. "We are young in so many areas, that we make mistakes and have to find a way to fight through. I am proud of the progress we’ve made thus far, but we have a long way to go."