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|Red Hill 28, Palestine 0|
Harper highlights Saluki defense
BRIDGEPORT - It's hard to score if you rarely have the ball.
Palestine learned that lesson the hard way Friday evening as Red Hill High School's football team registered eight takeaways in a 28-0 shutout in Little Illini Conference Eastern Division play.
"This is the best we've played all season," said Red Hill coach Billy Gray, whose team is now 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the LIC Eastern Division.
The Salukis forced the Pioneers (1-4, 0-3 LIC Eastern) to fumble eight times. Palestine lost six of those fumbles - all but one of which was recovered by the Salukis' Garrett Harper - and quarterback Brandon Ramsey was intercepted twice.
"The defense really wanted a shutout," said Gray. "Those kids worked hard and they earned it."
The shutout was the first for Gray as the Salukis' head coach, and the first for Red Hill since a 41-0 blanking of Oblong in the final game of the 2010 regular season.
Red Hill scored the only touchdown it would need on the opening series, as it moved 74 yards in 10 plays to take the lead on a 1-yard TD run by Blake Adams 4:32 into the contest. Quarterback Dalton Murray ran for the two-point conversion, putting the Salukis into an 8-0 lead.
Two turnovers helped RHHS increase the lead to 22-0 at halftime.
Harper moved 65 yards for a touchdown after picking up a fumble with 11:04 remaining in the second period and Murray's two-point run stretched the lead to 16-0.
Red Hill put the game away with 24 seconds to play in the half, as Murray scored on a 3-yard run. The score was set up when Harper recovered a fumble at the Palestine 3-yard line.
"Those turnovers were huge," Gray said. "We had (eight) takeaways and only one giveaway. If you get the ball handed to you that many times you've got to capitalize and we were able to tonight."
Murray's 7-yard touchdown run three minutes into the final period proved to be the only scoring in the second half.
Aside from the six fumble recoveries, Murray and Steven Ramsaran both intercepted passes.
The Salaukis limited the Pioneers to 145 yards in total offense, while gaining 184.
Murray was perfect, hitting on all five of his pass attempts, for 50 yards. Tristan Holtz caught four of those for 34 yards, while Ramsaran had a 16-yard reception. Murray rushed for 45 yards to lead the Salukis, while Adams added 26 yards on the ground and Holtz 25.
The Salukis will travel to Cumberland Friday, to play the Pirates for what is scheduled to be the final time. Cumberland is leaving the LIC for the Little Okaw Valley Conference after this season.
Salukis 28, Pioneers 0
Score by quarters
Palestine 0 0 0 0 - 0
Red Hill 8 14 0 6 - 28 Team statistics
First downs 12 12
by rushing 8 7
by passing 2 3
by penalty 2 2
Rushes-yards 31-90 46-134
Passing (C-A-I) 5-19-2 5-5-0
Passing yards 55 50
Total yards 145 184
Penalties-yards 8-67 5-45
Punts-average 1-54.0 4-26.5
Fumbles-lost 8-6 3-2
Possession 21:20 26:40
RH - Blake Adams 1 run (Dalton Murray run) 7:18, 1st qtr. RH 8, P 0.
RH - Garrett Harper 65 fumble return (Murray run) 11:04, 2nd qtr. RH 16, P 0.
RH - Murray 3 run (Run failed) :24, 2nd qtr. RH 22, P 0.
RH - Murray 7 run, 9:02 (Run failed), 4th qtr. RH 28, P 0.
Rushing - Palestine: Treyver Ferguson 3-31, Dalton Murdock 6-31, Dawson Ferguson 3-15, Blake Newlin 8-13, Wade Beard 2-12, Brandon Ramsey 9-minus 12. Red Hill: Murray 18-45 (2 TDs), Adams 7-26 (TD), Tristan Holtz 9-25, Cole Westall 4-16, Harper 4-12, Grant Gaither 1-9, Dalton Thacker 1-1, Dylan Pentell 2-0.
Passing - Palestine: Ramsey 5-19-2, 55 yards. Red Hill: Murray 5-5-0, 50 yards.
Receiving - Palestine: Newlin 2-23, Mikey Roberts 2-22, T. Ferguson 1-10. Red Hill: Holtz 4-34, Steven Ramsaran 1-16.
Punting - Palestine: Ramsey 1-54,54.0 avg. Red Hill: Murray 4-106, 26.5 avg.
Kickoff returns - Palestine: B.J. Ramsey 1-13. Red Hill: Ramsaran 1-12.
Interceptions - Red Hill: Murray 1-0, Ramsaran 1-0.