MONROE - After a slow start this season, Salem is starting to build some momentum.
Bradley Moon rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries as the Seminoles (2-2) chalked up a 24-7 victory over Monroe Area (0-4) Friday night at the Purple Pit.
"It was a good win for us. I truly believe we are getting better," Salem coach Chad Estes said. "We still have to eliminate some mistakes. We had some (scoring) opportunities that we didn't cash in on. We're working hard on being a complete football team, which means we've got to be able to throw the football as well as run it.
"We're getting close (to where we want to be). We're looking for a exciting stretch the rest of the season. As we go down the schedule, every game is just going to get bigger and bigger as the season goes on."
The Seminoles took control of the game with a pair of first-half touchdowns.
Corey Nedd's 26-yard run and Moon's 14-yard burst set up quarterback JoJo Smith's 14-yard touchdown on the final play of the quarter, putting Salem in front 7-0.
Early in the second quarter, the Seminoles took advantage of a 14-yard punt by Monroe Area. Three plays after the kick, Moon scored on a 29-yard run off a draw, boosting the lead to 14-0.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Purple Hurricanes struck for the only touchdown with 8:41 left in the game.
On a fourth-and-18 at the Salem 35, wide receiver D.J. Hendricks caught a deflected pass from quarterback Demontevious Smith near the goal line, cutting Salem's lead to 14-7.
With the game on the line, the Seminoles did something they have not been able to do this season - churn out a methodical drive.
The Seminoles hammered the ball at Monroe Area on the ground, chewing 43 yards on 10 plays to set up Joseph Schneider's 35-yard field with 3:03 remaining, which extended the lead to 17-7. In the first half, Schneider missed on tries of 39 and 40 yards.
"We took the ball down the field, and kicked, what I thought, was a big field goal," Estes said. "It put us back up two scores. I was pleased with the offense, especially in that situation, because we took the win instead of sitting back and letting them pressure us."
After that, the Salem defense put the game away when Smith intercepted Hendricks' pass off a trick play and returned it deep into Monroe Area territory.
Two plays later, Cody Davis scored on a 7-yard run off an inside counter to wrap up the 24-7 victory for Salem.
Once again, Salem's defense played a strong game, allowing Monroe Area just 42 yards and three first downs in the first half.
The Purple Hurricanes finished the game with only 85 yards rushing and 91 passing for 176 total yards.
"Our defense has really responded since the Heritage game," Estes said. "They really played well against Rockdale until late. Coach (Stan) Allen, the defensive coaching staff and players are really understanding what we're trying to do."
Offensively, Salem pounded out 248 yards on the ground. Nedd chipped in 74 yards on 16 carries.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.