SALEM — As Salem Hills' offense struggled early, the Skyhawks' special teams put them ahead.
The Skyhawks returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown, recovered an onside kick and blocked a punt — all in the first quarter — en route to a 41-13 win over Maple Mountain on Friday night.
"They just did their job, their assignments and executed," said Salem Hills quarterback Sione Wolfgramm. "That definitely shifted the momentum to us."
No special teams play was bigger for the Skyhawks (1-0 Region 8, 2-3 overall) than Cody Barlow's 62-yard return for a touchdown on a blocked field goal.
After Salem Hills fumbled on its first play from scrimmage, Maple Mountain (0-1, 0-5) seemed poised to score.
But the Skyhawk defense stopped the Golden Eagles inside the 20-yard line, forcing a 35-yard field goal attempt.
Several Salem Hills players burst through the line and the kick was blocked, and Barlow picked the ball up at the 38-yard line with nobody between him and the end zone.
"All I saw was open field," Barlow said. "You've just got to put it in that next gear and go. It's going to be a memory that's going to be great to look back on."
After a two-point conversion, the Skyhawks shocked the Golden Eagles by recovering an onside kick, which led to a Ryan Christensen field goal and an 11-0 Salem Hills lead.
"We had a good special teams game plan, our coaches did a great job preparing our players and our players executed," said Salem Hills coach Monte Morgan. "The blocked kicks in the first quarter really gave us a lift, and I thought that was really important."
As Salem Hills finally got some breathing room, the Skyhawks shifted their attention to Wolfgramm, who rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
Behind solid blocking up front from the offensive line, Wolfgramm was able to get into the Golden Eagle defensive backfield, where Maple Mountain struggled to bring him down.
"Sione's really developing as a quarterback," Morgan said. "We're making progress in that regard. We just have to keep doing that and give him things he can handle to do and not give him too much."
Twice Wolfgramm broke through for runs of more than 40 yards, the first a 44-yard touchdown in the second half and the second a 56-yard rush on the first play of the second half, which set up a 13-yard touchdown run by Wolfgramm.
"He's fast, but he's also really strong," Barlow said. "He's in the weight room all the time and he's building up that core. He's got strong legs, so when he's leaning forward and going, it takes a lot to stop him."
Wolfgramm's 13-yard score put the Skyhawks up 31-7 just one minute into the third quarter.
He added a 9-yard touchdown run early in the fourth.
Tyson Jex completed 18 of 31 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown for Maple Mountain.
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