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Gallagher, defense pace Malone football over Potsdam, 25-14

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POTSDAM — While Mitch Gallagher rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns in leading Malone past Potsdam, 25-14, in the Northern Athletic Conference championship game on Friday night, it was the Huskies’ defense that the senior quarterback/defensive back was most impressed with.

“I’m so proud of our defense. We played a (great) game. We held them in the first half and kept it up in the second half,” said Gallagher, whose team held Potsdam’s ground game to 121 yards rushing. “We showed them different formations from the first time we played them. We sent a couple of blitz packages, which worked really well.”

The hard-running Gallagher, named by Section 10 officials after the game as the recipient of the Don Petty Award as the top overall player in Section 10, scored on runs of five and three yards in the first and second quarters, respectively, and then added what proved to be the game-winner with a two-yard burst on the first play of the fourth quarter.

“Mitch is tough. He’s not afraid to run over a guy if he’s in his way,” said Malone coach Greg Marshall, whose team won for the first time ever on the Potsdam turf field. “We changed a few things and really challenged them on defense. Our guys have been wanting to play them again ever since they beat us in the regular season. There’s nothing better than this.”

Malone (8-1) trailed by 8-7 in the second quarter after Potsdam quarterback Will Coleman scored on a 1-yard dive. But the Huskies took a 13-8 lead into the halftime locker room after Gallagher’s 2-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter, set up on the previous play by a 29-yard Gallagher scamper.

Potsdam (8-1) again took the lead as O’den Robertson converted from one-yard out, on a drive aided by a pair of Malone pass interference penalties, with 40 seconds left in the third quarter.

But it was all Huskies from there as a 46-yard run by Tyrek Sneed set up a 2-yard Gallagher score on the first play of the fourth quarter. That was followed by a Harvey Smith interception at the Malone 20-yard line that the Huskies converted into an 80-yard touchdown drive, culminating in a Sneed 26-yard run with five minutes to play.

Malone moves on to compete in the Class B state tournament, while Potsdam will host Massena this coming weekend for the right to compete in the Class A state tournament.

“Malone played a great game. Mitch did a good job,” Potsdam coach Jim Kirka said. “We were injured with a lot of key guys out on defense, but no excuses. Our running game was not there tonight.”

Said Gallagher: “Not making any turnovers, keeping the ball in our hands, was definitely big.”

Added Marshall: “We always make one or two turnovers, so tonight was big for us. We concentrated on that all week.”

Sneed finished with 119 yards rushing on nine carries for the Huskies. For the Sandstoners, Coleman completed 9-of-15 passes for 105 yards, while Shawn Clark made eight receptions for 104 yards.

MASSENA 18, TUPPER LAKE 9

Taking advantage of two fumbles and a missed field goal by Tupper Lake, the Red Raiders improved to 5-4 with a win against the Lumberjacks at Mike Nicholas Field in the Tier II Championship game.

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