November 14, 2010

#6 Salem Upsets #3 Ocean Lakes 27-17

SunDevils Shock Dolphins: On a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex, the sixth-seeded Salem SunDevils pulled the first upset of these 2010 Eastern Region Playoffs, stunning the third-seeded Ocean Lakes Dolphins 27-17. Salem scored two touchdowns in the game's final four minutes, both by running back Darryl Jackson.

Six-foot-5 sophomore quarterback Bucky Hodges, who's already being recruited heavily by such ACC schools as Virginia Tech and Maryland, accounted for 266 total yards and two touchdowns through the air, matching Ocean Lakes' fine quarterback Lafonte Thourogood for big plays in a battle between two of the finest signal callers in Tidewater.

"It's a big win for our school, I'm real happy for our kids, happy for our staff, happy for the Salem community. Our kids took some knocks in the beginning. They just kept fighting and kept working. I can't say enough about them," said Salem Head Coach Robert Jackson, who guided the SunDevils to a region title back in 2006 and viewed this victory as major step in their quest to get back to that level.

"It brings some respectability to the program. We beat a good Ocean Lakes football team, and they've been one for the last few years. We take nothing from them. We said this was a game that we needed to kind of get our program back on the map. We got a lot of young kids that are coming back, so our future is bright. Lose or go home, this is the playoffs. Either you're winning and you're planning your practices or you're planning your banquet. And we don't want to plan our banquet any time soon."


Time (QTR)

Scoring Play (Salem vs. Ocean Lakes)

Game Score


10:35 (1)

Thourogood 10-yard run, PAT van Reesema



5:36 (1)

Hodges 7-yard pass to Avant, PAT Morlock good



0:03 (1)

Hodges 26-yard pass to Dailey, 2-point conversion no good



4:16 (2)

Thourogood 5-yard run, PAT van Reesema



6:47 (3)

van Reesema 25-yard field goal



3:24 (4)

Jackson 1-yard run, PAT Morlock good



1:32 (4)

Jackson 19-yard run, PAT Morlock good


Hodges was especially sharp on third downs, completing 4-of-6 passes for first downs in those situations during the second half on a day where he was extremely efficient. Despite being picked off in the end zone early in the fourth quarter by Davon Richardson, Hodges completed 21 of 27 passes for 208 yards and a couple of first half scores. He also was a threat with his legs, breaking off five runs of eight yards or longer and finishing with 13 attempts for 58 yards.

"We just need him to make plays," said Jackson. "We've been on him, has gone this year whole year and taken a lot of criticism, but we're talking about a tenth grader. I think this might've been his coming out right here on this stage, too."

After he was bloodied and injured earlier this season in a 22-0 shutout loss to Ocean Lakes where he was picked off three times, twice for touchdowns, some wondered if Salem had this type of game in them. Hodges and his teammates never had any doubt.

"It feels good to beat them, especially after week two. We knew we were going to get them back. We wanted to spread the ball around, and kind of like that first game (against Kempsville) when we had that air attack," noted Hodges. "The first time against Ocean Lakes we had two of our starters out in Keith [Knight] and [Jonathan] Milam, so they did a real good job today. By any means necessary, the goal is to make plays. I'm glad we were able to do that and execute the game-plan."

Since they were 3-3 overall around the midway point of the season, the SunDevils have now won five in a row. Salem's confidence is sky high.

"We're jelling and getting our chemistry together, and made things real sharp going into these playoffs," said WR/DB Kwamane Bowens, one of 13 sophomores on the Salem roster. "We're a real young team, but we figure age doesn't matter as long as we come out and execute and do what we're supposed to do."

Defense Denies: In three of their final four regular season games, the Salem defense pitched shutouts. While Ocean Lakes managed to finish with 318 total yards of offense, 17 points and Thourogood threw and ran for 134 yards each, the Dolphins didn't have much success offensively in the second half. That's because the SunDevils' defense settled in, and only allowed a field goal over the game's final two quarters.

Trailing 20-17, Ocean Lakes had an opportunity late in the fourth quarter. Thourogood threw a pass over the middle that was picked off by junior middle linebacker Joshua Lawson.

"Icing it for the team for my first playoff win, it definitely was a memorable moment. I've had a couple opportunities this year to get some picks, but they haven't as fortunate as this one. I've had a couple drops, am not really expecting them to come, so the experience of dropping them helped me make the play," stated Lawson.

"We've had a good defense from day one, been fighting all year and we've had some games where it's been shaky in the beginning, but we always find ways to fight back. Our defense is solid, and when we got in at half-time down by a point, we decided to keep plugging away. We believe we can stop anybody as long as we execute."

In addition, the Salem secondary didn't bend much at all. Corners D'Metrius Williams and Kimdrick Feaster combined for 11 tackles, and contained Steven Brown and Eli Harold, not allowing either to catch a pass for more than 10 yards.

"They've been doing a good job all year. They've pretty much gone unnoticed, we don't get wrote about and we kind of like it that way," Jackson commented on his corners. "We try to use stuff like that, and we know the media doesn't mean anything by it, people play that respect thing. But if it works, that's what we told them."

Spread the Wealth: Eight different receivers caught passes for Salem on Saturday afternoon, led by Ronald Dailey and Darius Fredrick with four receptions apiece. It truly was a collective effort for Salem's receiving core, and what enabled them to spread the ball around so well in addition to the pinpoint accuracy of Hodges was an offensive line that's healthy and steadily improved since their meeting with Ocean Lakes early in the season.

A couple of seniors, left guard Keith Knight and Jonathan Milam, were out for the first meeting for the SunDevils. They were in the lineup this time around, whereas Ocean Lakes was missing three starters in OT Chaz Lowery, DT Anthony Joffrion and DB Gianni Boyer.

"This is the first game we had our whole offensive line together. We were playing a 5-6, 160-pound guy, got away with it and no knock to him he was doing an adequate job," pointed out Jackson.

Tough Ending for Ocean Lakes: For a team that started several sophomores in the 2008 Eastern Region Championship loss to Oscar Smith, it's a very bitter pill to swallow to go without a playoff win each of the past two years. Ocean Lakes was unable to qualify for postseason play last year when they had to forfeit six games due to the usage of an ineligible player, taking their record from 10-0 on the field to 4-6 overall. This season they got off to a great start at 7-0, then lost a close game to Bayside, followed by one to Cox and now the result is the third loss in four weeks for a program that was hoping to compete for a district, regional and state titles.

"It's very tough to swallow all the way around for the seniors. You get this loss and there's no next week or next year for those seniors. They've given us everything you could ever ask for from them, from Josh Mann, Lafonte Thourogood and on down the list. You feel for them because they don't get it again in a Dolphins uniform," said Ocean Lakes Head Coach Chris Scott.

"Salem's done a great job. It was a tough draw, and your hat has to go off to Coach Jax, how his guys prepared and we knew that going in. In that second half, they were able to get a score and we were only able to get a field goal. That's pretty much the difference, along with third downs and long and second downs and long."

But Thourogood, Mann and company have nothing to be ashamed of because despite the loss their record on the field over the past three years was 30-4, making the best three-year run in school history. It just ended sooner than they wanted.

Postgame Audio with Salem Coach Robert Jackson


Salem 27:
Bucky Hodges - - 21-27 for 208Yds. 2-1TD/Int. ratio; 13Car. 58Yds.
Darryl Jackson - - 7Car. 25Yds. 2TD
Ronald Dailey - - 4Rec. 51Yds. TD; 2 Tackles, PBU
Darius Fredrick - - 4Rec. 53Yds.
Jonathan Avant - - 3Rec. 32Yds. TD; 3 Tackles, Fumble Recovery
Kimdrick Feaster - - 6 Tackles
D'Metrius Williams - - 5 Tackles, PBU
Somari Marshall - - 5 Tackles
Josh Lawson - - 4 Tackles, 2TFL, Sack, INT

Ocean Lakes 17:
Lafonte Thourogood - - 10-19 for 134Yds. 0-1TD/Int; 16Car. 134Yds. 2TD
Steven Brown - - 7Rec. 37Yds; 4 Tackles
Eli Harold - - 1Rec. 10Yds; 4 Tackles, 2.5TFL, 1.5 Sacks, FF
Reggie Owens - - 8Car. 35Yds; 1Rec. 74Yds; 2 Tackles
Demetri McGill - - 7 Tackles, 2TFL
Corey Taylor - - 7 Tackles
Derrick Nnadi - - 6 Tackles, 3.5TFL, 1.5 Sacks, Fumble Recovery
Lamar Neal - - 5 Tackles, 2TFL, PBU

Matthew Hatfield has covered Eastern Region Basketball & Football since 2004 for - the #1 High School Sports Site on the Rivals Network. Check out Hatfield's website - - for more on the pro and college sports scene. To contact Matthew, please e-mail [email protected], and listen to him with Rod Johnson on the Hour every Saturday at 11AM on ESPN Radio 94.1.

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