MASSENA - The Massena Central varsity football team opened the 2013 Northern Athletic Conference season by ending a six-year drought against Franklin Academy on Friday night at Mike Nicholas Field.
This game was a battle right to the end but our guys never hung their heads when things didnt go our way. They never gave up, said coach Anthony Diagostino after the Raiders churned out a 21-0 win over a Huskies program that hadnt fallen to a Massena varsity squad since the 2006 season.
There were certainly some aspects of our game that we need to get better at but I feel this team will accept that as a challenge and come Monday, theyll be ready to get back to work. Its always great to open with a win and getting a shutout against Malone is a great first step for us, he added.
After a scoreless first half where the teams committed a combined six turnovers, the Raiders settled down on both sides of the line of scrimmage in the second, taking control in the third quarter where they scored 14 points. A blocked punt by senior linebacker Connor Paquin gave the Raiders the ball on the Malone 17 and four plays later, senior runningback Jeremiah Reagan bolted through the left side of the line to score on a 12-yard run. He then added the first of his three successful PAT kicks to make it 7-0 midway through the quarter.
The Raiders ended the next FA possession with a fumble recovery by Nolan Terrance and took over on the Huskies 23-yard line. Another four-play drive ended with Terrance surging his way in from 14 yards out with just over two minutes left.
After trading failed possessions to start the fourth quarter, the Raiders stopped the Huskies on downs on their own 30 yard line then marched 70 yards on nine plays and closed out the scoring when Reagan darted into the endzone from 12 yards out for his third touchdown of the night.
We struggled moving the ball in the first half but fortunately our defense and special teams kept coming up with big plays to keep us in the game, noted Diagostino. We made some adjustments at halftime. We went to more of a power running game and that seemed to work so we stuck with it.
Jeremiah really ran tough for us the whole game. I dont think he had a run where he didnt break at least one or two tackles. Our big guys up front did a great job of getting his some room to run in the second half, he added.
Reagan finished with 84 yards on 18 carries on the night while first-year junior Isaiah Dillabough generated another 40 yards on his four fourth-quarter carries.
Senior quarterback Rory Corcoran connected on five o18 passes for 38 yards with Xavier Viskovich pulling down a pair of passes for 18 yards and Josh Manley logging a 22-yard catch.
Manley also played a lead role defensively, picking off two passes deep in the Massena zone. Matthew Thibault also notched an interception while Terrance finished with two fumble recoveries and Cody Hooper with one. The Raiders also stuffed a pair of punt attempts.
Cameron Gallagher and Jacob Henning split quarterbacking duties for the Huskies, who regularly managed to get the ball across midfield but were consistently thwarted by the Raiders red zone defense. Jake Perry and Tucker Bartenslager combined to produce the majority of the rushing yardage out of the FA backfield.
This is the first time in my five years as coach that weve beaten Malone, acknowledged Diagostino. Were happy with the win and from I feel about this team so far, were going to build from it.
The Raiders return to action next Saturday when the host Tupper Lake in their annual Hall of Fame Game starting at 1:30 p.m.
In the other NAC openers on Friday night, Tupper Lake turned back St. Lawrence Central 30-28 and OFA beat Canton 46-6.
Tupper Lake 30, SLC 28: At Tupper Lake, Jeremy Roussells two point conversion run after a Morgan Stevens three yard keeper 5:04 into the fourth quarter proved to be the game winning points for the host Lumberjacks.
Mike Plantes 51 yard touchdown run and David Plantes 52 yard touchdown reception tossed by Mike Burns in the third quarter helped St. Lawrence to a 28-22 lead.
Tupper Lakes Mitch Keniston caught a 57 yard touchdown pass from Stevens and ran back a punt for 77 yards to paydith in the win. Cody LaPierre also scampered 78 yards for a kickoff touchdown return.
Mike Plante ran for two touchdowns on runs of 12 and 51 and David Plante had a 91 yard punt return touchdown for the Larries.
Roussell collected 149 yards on 24 carries and Stevens was four for eight for 89 yards for Tupper Lake.
Burns was five of 11 for 134 yards while Mike Plante had 105 yards on 14 attempts rushing and David Plante had 76 yards on 15 carries and caught three balls for 79 for St. Lawrence.
OFA 46, Canton 6: The Blue Devils used a 22-point second quarter to build a 28-0 halftime lead and cruised past Canton in the opening game for each team in Ogdensburg.
Jordan McCormick rushed for 71 yards on six carries and scored two touchdowns for Ogdensburg Free Academy and Josh Liebstein added 77 yards rushing on nine carries.
Peyton VanBibber led Canton, rushing for 111 yards on 14 carries, including a 70-yard touchdown run.