CONYERS -- Madison County didn’t cross midfield during the first half against Salem, yet found itself with the ball and a shot to tie or win the game at the very end Friday.
Down 21-7 late, Madison County recovered a fumble, scored a touchdown and then recovered an onside kick before quarterback Jacob Owens was intercepted, ending the Raiders' comeback bid in a 21-14 loss.
When asked, Raider tailback Al Allen said he felt he and his teammates fought to the bitter end.
"As far as putting up a fight, I feel good that we came out and played hard and had a chance in the last two minutes of the (fourth) quarter," he said.
The setback drops Madison County to 2-3 as the Raiders try to rebound next week against Habersham Central.
Salem ran its ground-oriented offense well, rushing for 223 yards. That total included a 68-yard touchdown run from Jo Jo Smith early in the third quarter.
The Seminoles’ only mistake in the running game came with their late fumble. Up 21-7 and driving to ice the game, Salem coughed the ball up at the Raider 24 with 4:29 left.
Madison County then drove and Owens hit Allen for a 19-yard completion, moving the Raiders to the Seminoles' one-yard line. Two plays later, Allen scored Madison County’s second touchdown with just 2:26 left, to cut the lead to 21-14 and set up the last-minute dramatics. Alex Young recovered Spencer Baird’s ensuing onside kick, and Madison County then gained a first down as the Raiders raced against the clock.
But on fourth-and-13 with 1:00 left at the Salem 47, Owens scrambled and threw a high pass downfield into the hands of Salem free safety Tyler Askew as the Seminoles clinched their fourth win in five meetings over Madison County.
Madison County, held to just 34 yards in the first half, moved the ball better in the second half, gaining 165 yards. However, it was a special teams play that really sparked the squad. With the Raiders down 14-0 in the third quarter, Claude Johnson returned a kickoff to the Salem 41, which led to Kendrick Butler’s one-yard score at the 8:18 mark.
Madison County relied more heavily on the legs of Al Allen in the second half as he carried the ball 10 times for 54 yards on the night. Allen added 41 receiving yards on three catches. Owens finished 9-of-15 for 100 yards passing, with no touchdowns and the one interception.
Rushing: Allen 10-54-1 TD; Butler 4-16-1 TD; Mack 4-19; Owens 17-9; Johnson 1-1