CLINTONVILLE — Saranac Lake had relied on its potent offense for point production all season long — and it certainly wasn’t going to stop Saturday.
The Red Storm (10-0) scored three touchdowns on their first 10 plays from scrimmage and defeated Ogdensburg Free Academy 42-12 in the NYSPHSAA Class C regional football game at AuSable Valley.
“Those three strikes helped us psychologically and maybe put a little doubt in our opponents’ mind, so that was critical for us,” Saranac Lake head coach Eric Bennett said. “I emphasized the importance of scoring first and we were able to do so by dictating the tempo early.”
Quarterback Matt Phelan hit fellow senior Kevin Morgan on 10 and 65-yard touchdown passes before closing the opening stanza with a 40-yard scamper down the far sideline.
Following a 21-6 first quarter lead, Lance Ackerson, who entered the contest with 308 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the year, broke away from multiple tacklers for a pair of end zone appearances in the second quarter.
“When (Ackerson) lowers his shoulders and starts churning, he’s tough to stop,” Bennett said. “When our offense is in a goal-line situation, we can always count on him to pick up some tough, physical yards. He seems to be hitting his stride right now and it couldn’t be at a better time.”
Saranac Lake finished the first half of play with 291 yards of total offense as compared to Ogdensburg Free Academy’s 78.
“The defense settled down following Ogdensburg’s first touchdown and we were able to get back to the basics,” Bennett said. “We were fortunate to stop their counter game because it was effective.”
Morgan finished the afternoon with an interception on the defensive side of the football.
“It was hard for me to pick up any tackles in the secondary because the defensive line was making stops at the line of scrimmage,” Morgan said. “They played a critical role in the game and were consistent.”
Phelan finished 12-for-14 with 256 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Seth Pickreign, a utility player in the backfield, accumulated 73 yards on nine carries and two catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.
The Red Storm return to AuSable Valley Saturday for 1 p.m. versus Section II representative Hoosick Falls in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinal round. The No. 2 Panthers (10-0) defeated No. 10 Chatham 40-0 Friday.
“Hoosick Falls is a dynamic, explosive and well-coached football team,” Bennett said. “We have the utmost respect for their program and they’re clearly the class act of Section II as far as ‘C’ schools go. We know we’ve got our work cut out for us, but we’re certainly going to give it our best shot.”
Saranac Lake 42, Ogdensburg Free Academy 12
Ogdensburg Free Academy 6 0 0 6 — 12
Saranac Lake 21 14 7 0 — 42
SL- Morgan 10 pass from Phelan (Pickreign kick), 1:43.
O- Angel 8 run (run failed), 5:44.
SL- Morgan 65 pass from Phelan (kick failed), 6:18.
SL- Phelan 40 run (Phelan run), 11:00.
SL- Ackerson 15 run (pass failed), 6:12.
SL- Ackerson 3 run (Ackerson run), 9:13.
SL- Pickreign 34 pass from Phelan (Strack kick), 10:00.
O- Sharpe 3 run (run failed), 6:21.
O- Angel 15-50, TD; Sharpe 7-49, TD; Farrell 15-44; Planty 1-(-4). Team totals: 38-139, 2 TD.
SL- Pickreign 9-73; Ackerson 5-30, 2 TD; Phelan 3-26, TD; Fitzgerald 2-9; Kilner 2-2. Team totals: 21-140, 3 TD.
O- Angel 8-16-1-49.
SL- Phelan 12-14-1-256, 3 TD. Fitzgerald 3-4-0-17. Team totals: 15-18-1-263, 3 TD.
O- Liebstein 2-18; Bouchard 2-17; Planty 2-13; Farrell 2-1.
SL- Morgan 3-87, 2 TD; Leahy 2-76; Pickreign 2-49, TD; Burpoe 3-32; Bevilacqua 2-22; Ackerson 1-13; McCabe 1-(-1); Murnane 1-(-5).