On defense, Ra'Mir Nock made 12 tackles, including five for losses.
On offense, Nock ran for 116 yards, including 95 in the second half.
But those are just numbers. They only hint at Nock's main contribution to Salem's 13-0 victory over Gateway in the South Jersey Group 1 semifinals: hard-nosed physicality that marked the Rams' performance on a bright, blustery Saturday afternoon on their little home field off Walnut Street.
"Coach said the team that was the most physical, that was the toughest, was going to win," Nock said. "That's me. I'm a dog."
The 5-foot-6, 208-pound Nock led the way as second-seeded Salem (8-2) advanced to meet top-seeded Penns Grove (11-0) in the South Jersey Group 1 title game Saturday at the Red Devils' field.
The sectional finalists are old Salem County rivals. They met Oct. 27 in Salem, with Penns Grove taking a 26-20 victory in a game that wasn't decided until the final play.
"They beat us on our home field," Nock said. "Now we're coming to beat them on their home field."
Third-seeded Gateway (8-1) also played a hard-hitting brand of football on a cold day when a strong wind hindered the ability of both teams to throw the football.
Gateway created six takeways, including five fumble recoveries. Junior defensive end Jake Schultes collected his 10th fumble recovery of the season.
But the Gators couldn't sustain much offensively against a Salem defense led by Nock, as well as senior lineman Savion Moore and junior end Josh Johnson.
"Our kids played hard," Gateway coach Josh Mason said. "Hats off to Salem. They were a very physical team today."
Salem's defense created four takeways, including three interceptions. Johnson, one of South Jersey's top juniors and owner of a scholarship offer from Baylor, recovered a fumble and registered two sacks.
"We thought we could dominate with our defense," Johnson said.
Salem's offense featured two big plays, both of which were improvised by senior quarterback Jamael Bundy.
The slick, speedy left-hander ran 80 yards for a score in the second quarter on a play that began with a mix-up, then scrambled out of trouble and tossed a short pass to senior Keith Chung, who raced 44 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.
"He's a gamer," Salem coach Montrey Wright said of Bundy. "He's one of the most explosive players I've ever coached."
Nock set the tone with a 6-yard tackle for loss on the game's first play. He helped the Rams control much of the second half with their ground game, bursting between the tackles again and again to sustain drives, control the clock, and limit Gateway's opportunities to mount a comeback.
"Ra'Mir is the guy," Wright said. "He brings that toughness, that physicality. His mentality is just all about toughness."
Gateway 0 0 0 0 – 0
Salem 0 7 0 6 – 13
S: Jamael Bundy 80 run (Miccah Surran kick)