CONYERS - If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then Salem's 21-8 victory over Monroe Area wasn't exactly a masterpiece.
However, after struggling in the first half, the Seminoles (3-1) scored three times in the second half to claim a 21-8 victory over the Purple Hurricanes (0-4) on Friday night at Seminole Stadium.
"No, it wasn't a masterpiece," Salem coach Chad Estes said. "I congratulated Coach (Matt) Fligg. I thought he did a tremendous job. They're not a bad football team. They've just had a hard time playing four quarters. With their quarterback out, they were at a disadvantage.
"They did an excellent job coaching. They did something to us that we weren't expecting and it took us until halftime to make an adjustment, which means we've got to do a better job on the coaching end."
In the first half, Salem struggled to hold on to the ball, fumbling four times while losing two. Twice, the Seminoles were flagged for needless penalties.
The Purple Hurricanes registered the half's only points when Salem's Tyrell Wellington was tackled in the end zone for a safety with 10:11 left in the second quarter.
The Seminoles' deficit could have been larger if not for a strong effort from their defense, which stopped the Purple Hurricanes three times in Salem territory, including a fourth-and-1 at the 4.
Salem's defense allowed only 128 total yards in the game, and 70 of that came on Tre'shard Burdette's touchdown run on the game's final play.
Linebackers DeJone Butler and Dontavious Butler led the charge along with free safety Jarrett Brown, who had two second-half interceptions.
"Except for the last play of the game, I thought our defense played the style of football that we're used to here at Salem," Estes said. "I think tonight we saw our linebackers - 84 (Butler) and 22 (Price). You know Butler is a first-time linebacker. Of course, Dontavious missed all of last season with an ACL injury. It takes a while to come back from that injury with your instincts. I think Coach (Stan) Allen challenged them and they showed up big for us tonight."
Finally, in the second half, Salem showed signs of life on offense, even though it played without the services of senior running back Bradley Moon.
Tyler Askew broke loose for a 44-yard touchdown run at 8:14 of the third quarter to put Salem in front 7-2.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, quarterback JoJo Smith scored from two yards out, pushing the lead to 14-2.
Late in the game after Brown's second interception, Askew ripped off a 24-yard touchdown run with 1:41 remaining.
Julian McLean did most of the inside running for the Seminoles, picking up 105 yards on 17 carries. Askew added 76 yards on just eight carries.
"I'm excited about the kids coming back from being down at halftime," Estes said. "You know it's a battle in this region every week. Every week you have to be ready to play."