CLINTONVILLE - Saranac Lake's football team put another win in the books early, cruising to a 56-20 victory over AuSable Valley Friday in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference action.
The Red Storm scored touchdowns on all six of their first half possessions and then got a kickoff return for a touchdown from Seth Pickreign at the start the second half to roll out to a 49-0 lead. With Saranac Lake's reserves in the game, the Patriots were able to score three touchdowns late in the matchup between the only two Class C teams in Section VII.
Saranac Lake also got one more touchdown in the second half on long run from backup quarterback Trent Fitzgerald.
Saranac Lake defenders Craig Leahy (42) and Kyle McGrain (52) join a host of Red Storm teammates to bring down AuSable Valley running back Jeremy Owen during Friday night’s game in Clintonville.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
For the fourth time in as many games, Saranac Lake's starters had too much speed for their opponent as the Red Storm improved to 4-0. The Patriots battled hard from start to finish, but the Red Storm made loads of big plays again to pull away.
Senior quarterback Matt Phelan ran for two touchdowns and threw two more scoring strikes on a night where he completed all five of his pass attempts for 167 yards. Pickreign added a 23-yard scoring run for a touchdown to his kickoff return and went a perfect 8-for-8 on conversion kicks. Kevin Morgan and Mike Burpoe caught a touchdown pass each and Lance Ackerson also ran for a touchdown.
"Saranac Lake is a machine," said AuSable Valley head coach Heath Ford. "We moved the ball on Saranac Lake, and that says a lot about our team, but they hit so fast. They are a quick-strike team for sure. They have some extremely fast guys."
Ackerson got Saranac Lake started with a 7-yard scoring run 6:17 into the game, and Phelan gave the Red Storm a two-touchdown edge when he sprinted 48 yards into the end zone with less than two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
The floodgates then opened in the second quarter as Saranac Lake scored four more touchdowns before halftime. Phelan pushed the Red Storm lead to 21-0 on a 1-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the second quarter and Pickreign followed with a 23-yard touchdown run 2:20 into the period. Burpoe then caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Phelan with 5:57 gone in the second, and Morgan wrapped up the first half scoring when he snagged a Phelan pass and spun his way through the Patriots defense on a 58-yard run to the end zone.
With a 42-0 cushion at halftime, the Red Storm kept their roll going at the start of the third quarter when Pickreign followed a line of blockers along his sideline for an 83-yard touchdown run on the second-half kickoff.
Despite finding themselves in a huge hole, AuSable Valley's players didn't show any quite competing on their home field. They scored three of the game's final four touchdowns. Junior fullback Dylan Savage finally put the Patriots on the board when he crossed the goal line on a 6-yard run 5:05 into the third quarter, and senior running back Michael Thompson tacked on a 14-yard touchdown run 3:23 into the fourth quarter.
After giving up two touchdowns in one game for the first time this season, Saranac Lake answered when Fitzgerald sprinted 65 yards into the end zone to push the Red Storm lead to 56-13. The Patriots got the game's final touchdown on a 2-yard run from Jeremy Owen with 1:19 left on the clock.
The Patriots fell to 0-4 with the loss, but Ford said his team played its best game of the season to date.
"We lost 22 players from last year, and when we started the season, I didn't even know who some of our players were," Ford said. "We had new faces everywhere, and we have a lot of guys who are out hurt. Tonight we fought to the bitter end. I couldn't be any prouder of the way our guys hung in there."
Although Phelan didn't even step on the field in the second half, he said it was fun watching all his teammates get playing time.
"We worked hard all week in practice, and when we got on the field, we knew what we had to do, and we got it done," Phelan said. "Our offensive line had a fantastic night. We could have run about anything. Games like this are nice because we get everybody in the game. Every player on this team deserves to be out there."
Saranac Lake plays at home next Saturday against Plattsburgh with the opening kickoff at 1:30 p.m.
Saranac Lake 56, AuSable Valley 20
SL - Ackerson 7 run (Pickreign kick), 6:17
SL - Phelan 48 run (Pickreign kick), 10:19
SL - Phelan 1 run (Pickreign kick), :28
SL - Pickreign 23 run (Pickreign kick), 2:20
SL - Burpoe 3 pass from Phelan (Pickreign kick), 5:57
SL - Morgan 58 pass from Phelan (Pickreign kick). :33
SL - Pickreign 83 kickoff return (Pickreign kick)
AV - Savage 6 run (Kick failed), 5:05
AV - Thompson 14 run (Owen kick), 3:23
SL - Fitzgerald 65 run (Pickreign kick), 4:28
AV - Owen 2 run (Owen kick), 10:41