MINEVILLE — Lance Ackerson had rushed for just 19 yards in Friday’s first half, getting tackled for a loss twice.
So it almost looked like a different running back was wearing No. 2 for Saranac Lake in the second half.
The senior broke loose for two long touchdowns and finished the game with 146 yards, leading the Red Storm to a 20-14 win over Moriah in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football at Linney Field.
“We have a whole new front, and it was just (a matter of) getting into the groove of things,” Ackerson said. “Last year, I knew all the stuff. We changed it up a bit, and now I just had to get into a rhythm. And I found it in the second half.”
Saranac Lake (1-1) went into halftime trailing 8-6 and had a pass picked off on the first play of the third quarter. But late in the quarter, Ackerson put the Red Storm ahead by finding a hole in the middle of the field and charging 68 yards to the end zone.
Moriah (1-1) responded with a 15-play, 83-yard drive that chewed up more than five minutes. C.J. Raymond made a key catch on third-and-8 to spark the drive and finished it off with a three-yard scoring run. The Vikings’ two-point conversion attempt failed, and they led 14-12.
Saranac Lake didn’t take long to pull back in front, courtesy of a long kickoff return by Ty Marmion and another big run by Ackerson. The running back got free for a 32-yard touchdown this time, and Tristan Fitzgerald hit Marmion for the two-point conversion and a 20-14 lead with 8:17 left.
Ackerson said with the play called on both of his touchdowns, the defense doesn’t have any good options and the Saranac Lake offensive line was able to create holes.
“As soon as I get five yards past the line of scrimmage, I’m gone,” Ackerson said.
The Vikings managed only a short drive on their next possession, but got the ball back with a little more than two minutes left. Starting at their own 18-yard line, they got near midfield when Cole Gaddor completed a 12-yard pass, his third straight completion. But a flag negated the play, and the drive fizzled. After the Red Storm mustered 74 yards in the first half, their offense looked much livelier in the second half.
“Part of it was tempo,” Saranac Lake coach Eric Bennett said. “I think part of it was really trying to take what they were giving us instead of trying to force a round peg in a square hole and just our kids recognizing what they were getting. And they made some really heady suggestions for us, and we listened to them.”
On Saranac Lake’s first drive of the game, Trent Fitzgerald hit Ackerson over the middle, and he took off for a 30-yard touchdown. Fitzgerald finished 2-for-5 for 35 yards and an interception. Saranac Lake’ s Jack Martin ran for 17 yards and also grabbed an interception.
The Vikings blocked the Red Storm’s point-after attempt in the first quarter and jumped ahead early in the second when Raymond caught the ball on the move and kept going to the end zone. After the 43-yard score, Gaddor connected with Tyler Pratt for a two-point conversion.
Gaddor completed 9-of-16 passes for 139 yards and one interception. Raymond ran 136 yards on 29 carries and caught five passes for 76 yards. Pratt added 51 receiving yards on three catches and picked off a pass on defense.
The Red Storm were coming off of a 33-7 loss to Peru, but Ackerson said they weren’t too discouraged, adding that they had played hard and lost to a bigger, better team. Bennett said Saranac Lake showed improvement in Week 2.
“I think we came together as a team,” Bennett said. “Our kids played with emotion, played with heart. And that was Saranac Lake football, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
Saranac Lake 20, Moriah 14
Saranac Lake 6 0 6 8 — 20
Moriah 0 8 0 6 — 14
SL- Ackerson pass from Tre. Fitzgerald (kick blocked), 4:47.
Mor- Raymond pass from Gaddor (Pratt pass from Gaddor), 1:49.
SL- Ackerson 68 run (run failed), 9:18.
Mor- Raymond 3 run (pass failed), 2:56.
SL-Ackerson 36 run (Marmion pass from Tri. Fitzgerald), 3:43.
SL- Ackerson 12-146, 2 TD; Tre. Fitzgerald 8-19; Martin 4-17; Marmion 1-8; Gunther 1-1; Tri. Fitzgerald 1-(-1). Totals: 27-190, 2 TD.
Mor- Raymond 29-136, TD; Nadeau 3-17; Graham 3-8; Gaddor 6-(-3). Totals: 41-158, TD.
SL- Tre. Fitzgerald 2-5-1-35, TD; Tri. Fitzgerald 3-7-0-3. Totals: 5-12-1-38, TD.
Mor- Gaddor 9-16-1-139, TD.
SL- Smith 2-3; Ackerson 1-30, TD; Bevilacqua 1-5; Martin 1-0.
Mor- Raymond 5-76, TD; Pratt 3-51; Granica 1-2.
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