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'Noles control Raiders
Playoff hopes stay alive with 21-7 win

CONYERS - Faced with wet and soggy conditions on Friday night, Salem had a simple game plan for Habersham Central.

On offense, the Seminoles fed the Raiders a steady diet of runs between the tackles by senior fullback Julian McLean. On defense, Salem was simply dominant, holding Habersham Central to minus-5 yards rushing and allowing just 46 total yards.

Added all together, the Seminoles (6-3) kept its playoff hopes alive in Region 8-AAAA by notching its third straight victory, a 21-7 romp over the Raiders on senior night at Seminole Stadium.

"It was a little wet and, you know, I get a little conservative sometimes and don't want to open up when we get the lead," Salem coach Chad Estes. "You don't want to make any mistakes when your defense is playing so well. We just played to our strengths tonight."

One of those strengths was McLean who put on an inside running clinic with a 38 carries for 162 yards, which allowed Salem to dominate the sticks 19-3.

When Salem looked to score, seniors JoJo Smith and Tyler Askew did most of the damage. Smith fired two first-half touchdown passes, while Askew added a touchdown catch and a touchdown run.

Smith and Askew hooked up for the Seminoles' first touchdown. Askew hauled in Smith's high pass down the far sideline and then shook loose from three would-be tacklers for a 7-0 lead at 4:08 of the first quarter.

Habersham Central caught a break late in the opening stanza, recovering a Salem fumble and returning it to the Seminole 24.

Five plays into the second quarter, the Raiders tied the game at 7 on Kevin Ellison's 2-yard touchdown run at 9:50.

But with McLean and Smith leading the way, Salem answered with a 16-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that chewed up 6:52 on the clock. McLean carried eight times for 40 yards on the drive and Smith added six totes for 42 yards.

On third-and-goal at 3, the Seminoles crossed up the Raiders, and Smith found Bradley Moon alone in the back end zone for the score and a 14-7 advantage.

In the third quarter, Salem's offense methodically marched for one more time-consuming touchdown drive, this time 75 yards on 13 plays that chewed up eight minutes on the clock.

Once again, McLean was the workhorse for the Seminoles, carrying nine times for 28 yards.

However, on this drive, Askew chipped in the big plays with two carries for 30 yards, including a 21-yard jaunt on the counter, before ending the drive by walking into the end zone on a 3-yard run with 19 seconds left in the period.

Askew's second score of the night extended the Salem lead to 21-7 and closed out the scoring.

With the win, Salem heads into next Friday's regular season finale at Apalachee right in the middle of the hunt for a playoff berth in Region 8-AAAA.