Culver football plagued by turnovers against Salem Academy
It is difficult to win a ballgame when you commit seven turnovers — just ask Culver. The Bulldogs found that out the hard way on Saturday when a domineering Salem Academy squad walked away from the Culver Athletic Complex with a 48-0 victory in hand. The loss pushes CHS to 0-4 overall on the season and 0-2 in 2A Special District 2.
"We had seven turnovers," said head coach Brian Silbernagel. "That did not help us."
"We didn't take care of the ball," the coach added.
Silbernagel noted that injuries to his young team and other personnel issues have forced him to start four freshmen, which was not the original plan.
"When we're missing guys, we're just shuffling guys," Silbernagel said. "We're not deep to begin with. When we shuffle to our No. 2s, it puts freshmen on the field. I have four freshmen that are out there starting, and that was not my intention of how I wanted the year to go."
"I guarantee Salem Academy didn't have four freshmen starting," he added. "It's just a different ballgame."
The game got off to a good enough start for Culver when the defense forced a turnover on downs after Salem Academy made it into the red zone. A false start on third down led the Bulldogs to punt after a Logan Macy pass to Gabe Wilson fell incomplete. Three plays later, the Crusaders had an 8-0 lead after an 11-yard run by quarterback Landen Iverson.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Macy hit freshman Roger Sotelo, but the young wideout fumbled the ball, and Salem Academy recovered in Bulldog territory. In the drive that followed, Macy showed his defensive chops and grabbed an interception off his quarterback counterpart on third down.
The very next play, Culver running back Cyrus Mathews fumbled right back to the Crusaders in prime field position. Salem Academy scored one play later when Iverson hit running back Chase Brown for a touchdown to put the score at 16-0.
During Culver's final possession of the first quarter, Macy found Sotelo again for a first down but was subsequently sacked and then threw an interception. Salem Academy scored their third touchdown of the game as the quarter expired, thanks to 23-yard run by Jesse Bauldree to make it 24-0.
After a nice 17-yard run from sophomore Kelin Abbas, the Culver offense stalled out and punted away. The defense was able to force its second turnover on downs when senior Weston Hershburger tackled a Salem Academy receiver just shy of the first down marker on fourth down.
The momentum was short-lived, though, as Macy threw his second interception on the next drive. It was the Bulldogs' fourth turnover in just 18 minutes of play. The Crusaders were not perfect, either, as they fumbled possession back to Culver just two plays later.
The drive that followed was one of the best of the day for Culver, but it ended unceremoniously. Salem Academy's Chase Brown ripped the ball out of Roger Sotelo's hands after the freshman caught a long pass and gained enough yardage for a first down.
The Crusaders used most of the remaining clock in the second quarter before scoring their fourth touchdown, a 25-yard run by Brown, to go up 30-0 at halftime.
"It was one of those things where you do one or two things right," said Silbernagel, "and then you shoot yourself in the foot with a turnover."
The Bulldogs made it into enemy territory in the opening drive of the second half, but they were eventually forced to punt the ball back to the Crusaders. Despite a nice punt that pinned Salem Academy at their own 10-yard line, Brown reeled off a 79-yard scamper for his third score of the game. With five minutes to play in the third, Culver trailed 36-0.
The hometown team narrowly avoided another disaster when Logan Macy fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Gabe Wilson was able to pounce on the ball to retain possession. That drive did not last long, though, as Macy was blindsided by Salem Academy linebacker Brady Brownell. The sack, which came on just the second play, forced Macy to fumble and gave Culver its sixth turnover.
Salem Academy decided to go for it on fourth down a few plays later, and the gamble paid off as Iverson scrambled for a 40-yard touchdown run, his second of the game. When Culver got the ball back with ten minutes to play, a second Cyrus Mathews fumble led to the team's seventh turnover. It also resulted in a 24-yard touchdown return by Brown.
Culver had one final chance to get on the board with their final drive of the game as the offense finally found some footing. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Mathews dropped a pass from Macy in the end zone on the final play, securing the 48-0 defeat.
The Bulldogs' next scheduled opponent is Gervais (0-5, 0-2 2A-SD2), a team that has also struggled mightily this season. The Cougars are coming off a 26-12 defeat at Harrisburg last Friday in a non-league matchup. In the two games that Gervais has played in Tri-River competition, they were outscored 112-0. Culver is heading on the road for this Thursday matchup.
The next game just might present the Bulldogs with their best opportunity for a win all season.
Salem Academy 48, Culver 0
at Culver High School
S — 24 6 6 12 — 48
C — 0 0 0 0 — 0
S — Landen Iverson 11-yard run (Joshua Smith run)
S — Iverson 17-yard pass to Chase Brown (Brown run)
S — Jesse Bauldree 23-yard run (Brown run)
S — Brown 25-yard run
S — Brown 79-yard run
S — Iverson 40-yard run
S — Brown 24-yard fumble return
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.