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Salem falls to Devils in shootout

LOGANVILLE - In a game of big plays, the defending Region 8-AAAA champions made a few more than it's previously-unbeaten guests. Storm Johnson rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns and Loganville held off Salem 47-35 on Friday at Red Devil Stadium.

Johnson's big highlights were an 80-yard run and a 45-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. The teams combined for seven plays of 35 yards or more and 16 plays went for 15 or more yards.

"Lot of points scored, unfortunately they had more than we did," Salem coach Chad Estes said. "Loganville played really well and they have a lot of weapons on offense. They came out and made plays."

Loganville (1-1) had little trouble marching down the field on its first two possessions. Salem's defense, which had given up six first-half points total in its first two games, couldn't handle quarterback A.J. Schmidt (3-for-3, 31 yards) on the game's opening drive, and got steady dose of Johnson, a Buford transfer. The tailback ran for 34 yards on five carries, including a five-yard touchdown run that put the hosts up 7-0.

After a Salem punt, the Red Devils went right back to work. Schmidt overthrew a wide open Clay Garner in the end zone on third-and-six, but on the next play, scrambled and found Johnson for a 15-yard completion. Three plays later, Johnson scored from eight yards to make it 14-0.

Just when it appeared Salem (2-1) had figured out the Loganville offense, forcing a second-and-long after a penalty and a sack of Schmidt, Johnson conjured up images of New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, making several cutbacks and scurried 80 yards before Salem tripped him up at the one-yard line. Fullback Mykel Wyyet rumbled in from a yard out on the next play.

"Storm Johnson is just a tremendous athlete," Estes said. "He was hard to handle."

That began a string of four consecutive scoring possessions for the teams. Salem converted its second fourth down play on the ensuing drive, getting a 49-yard touchdown run from Tyler Askew to cut the Loganville lead to 21-7. The teams then traded touchdowns that were set up by long running plays. Wyyet exploded for a 44-yard run that put the Red Devils inside the Salem 15-yard line and two plays later Johnson scored his third touchdown of the half from eight yards. The Seminoles got a 41-yard run from Jojo Smith and Julian McLean bullied his way into the end zone from two yards out to make it 28-14 just before halftime.

Salem came out strong in the third quarter, getting a 35-yard kickoff return from Askew to help the offense start in Loganville territory for the first time. McLean capped a 10-play drive with a nine-yard score that trimmed the deficit to 28-21.

Loganville went up 34-21 late in the third quarter on Schmidt's fade to Garner for a 14-yard touchdown. Seminoles safety Tyrell Wellington then made an excellent play intercepting Schmidt's pass attempt early in the fourth quarter and returning it 19 yards for a touchdown to get Salem to within 34-28. But the Red Devils responded immediately as Schmidt, who finished 10-of-15 for 174 yards, hooked up with Desean Ledbetter for a 45-yard touchdown strike to make it 41-28. Salem pulled to within 41-35 on Askew's two-yard touchdown run with 2:20 to play, but Johnson capped his huge night 20 seconds later with a 45-yard run.

"I was very proud of our football team; we were still trying to score when the horn sounded," said Estes. "We got down 21-0, I guess it was in the first quarter (and) we just couldn't quite catch up."

Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at kurt.aschermann@rockdalecitizen.com.