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High school football: Potsdam wins NAC showdown


OGDENSBURG — “Methodical” is the word that Potsdam football coach Jim Kirka used with pride to describe his undefeated Sandstoners after they used a relentless rushing attack and very consistent defense to down Ogdensburg Free Academy 44-14 in a showdown for the Northern Athletic Conference lead.

“Methodical is a perfect word to describe our team. And that comes from practice,” Kirka said. “Our offensive line features some seniors who are first-year starters and they have picked things right up from the guys who are back.”

With the win, Potsdam (5-0) moved into position to win the conference crown but needs victories against Tupper Lake and 4-1 Massena.

“Tonight our pass defense was good and having a good pass rush really helped,” added Kirka, whose team never punted and opened a 24-0 halftime lead. “It was a big win but we know OFA had one of their best players hobbled in Josh Liebstein and another, Jordan McCormick, didn’t play. So we have to be ready for them down the road.”

O’den Robertson accumulated 145 yards on 23 carries against OFA (4-1). He sandwiched scoring runs of 23 and two yards around a 27-yard touchdown reception by flanker Travis Hall. Potsdam quarterback Will Coleman completed five of seven passes for 92 yards. Robertson, Chase Palmer and Coleman all ran for two-point conversions.

“I owe everything I get to the utmost to my offensive line,” said Robertson, who used quick cuts, spin moves and bursts of sprinter’s speed to exploit the holes created by his line.

“We talk all week long about different situations and when it happens in a game, it is amazing how well it works.”

Coleman attempted only one pass in the second half and it went to Jacob Bryant for 40 yards to set up a 30-yard gallop for a touchdown by Palmer (10-89) in a 73-yard drive started by an interception by Connor Warden.

Defensively Potsdam did not allow a first down until OFA quarterback Joe Dalton broke an 18-yard run late in the second quarter. The run sparked a drive that was ended by a Robertson interception on the goal line and 40-yard return on the final play of the half.

Josh Liebstein and fullback Taylor Richardson sparked a second half acceleration of the OFA offense. Richardson rushed for 89 of his 96 yards in the second half, took a screen pass 31 yards and scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter.

Liebstein completed three of six passes for 59 yards with a seven-yard touchdown connection with Nick Sweeney in the fourth quarter. Jon Tayler followed both with PAT kicks.

Both scores were answered by the Sandstoners. Coleman took an option keeper 25 yards to end zone and threw a two-point conversion pass to Bryan in the third quarter. Fullback Rian McFadden completed the night’s scoring with a 25-yard burst straight up the middle in the fourth quarter.

“Potsdam is an outstanding team and tonight they did what they are,” OFA coach Matt Tessmer said. “We have a lot of season left and we will work to get better.”

n NOTES: A 21-yard connection between Liebstein and Ryan Denny set up OFA’s second score. ... Matt Liscum and Josh Laing had sacks for Potsdam and Zach Rottier had two stops behind the line of scrimmage. ... Joe Loffler and Nolan Rufa produced 12 and nine tackles for OFA and reserve Spencer Mayette had four in the second half.

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