BRASHER FALLS - Tupper Lake scored three touchdowns in the second half to break open a close game Saturday on the way to defeating St. Lawrence 28-14 in a Section X showdown at Randy Riggs Field.
The Lumberjacks took control in the fourth quarter after they scored on two consecutive drives after a short-lived 14-14 tie.
The first of the fourth quarter touchdowns came when quarterback Mitch Keniston ran 29 yards, giving his team a 20-14 lead with eight minutes left in the game.
Tupper Lake running back Jeremy Roussel follows his blockers during Saturday’s victory over St. Lawrence. Roussel led the Lumberjacks with 120 yards on the ground.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Attempting to keep the momentum after Keniston's long run, Tupper Lake coach Dennis Klossner elected to go for an onside kick.
Devin Larson recovered the ball on St. Lawrence's 44-yard line, giving the Lumberjacks great field possession.
"We have been successful with our onside kicks, and we were just trying to keep the ball from getting deep and having them run one back on us," Klossner said. "We felt confident in our defense."
On the ensuing drive, Keniston and running back Elliiot Kerst had key runs. Keniston had a strong 12-yard run while Kerst had a 10-yard burst. Kerst ended the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.
After a successful two-point conversion, the Lumberjacks took a 28-14 lead, essentially putting the game away with just 4:12 left to play.
Klossner gave credit to his offensive line for the improved play in the second half.
"We got better at our blocks," Klossner said. "We stayed on our blocks and (because of) the condition that we're in, we didn't wear down. We are low on numbers. We had a lot of guys playing both sides of the ball, but the shape that we're in, we didn't get tired."
Heading into the fourth-quarter, Tupper Lake held a 14-6 lead as both teams struggled to find the end zone.
The Larries opened up the scoring in the final quarter with a touchdown on a 6-yard run by quarterback Devon Euto. The play was especially big because it came on fourth down, and Tupper Lake was on the verge of getting the ball back on downs. After a successful two-point play, the game was tied.
That play appeared to give the host Larries an advantage in momentum, but it was quickly taken away by the Keniston touchdown.
Larries coach Bill Scharf was satisfied with his team's play.
"They just controlled the line of scrimmage," he said. "(We) were kind of equally matched there at the beginning of the game, but they just outplayed us. We're not discouraged because the kids played hard and put 14 points on the board."
Keniston led the Tupper Lake offense by running for 114 yards and one touchdown. He also had a 28-yard passing touchdown to wide receiver Brock Tarbox in the first quarter.
Tupper Lake running back Jeremy Roussel also had a strong game with 120 yards on 20 carries. Overall, the Lumberjacks had 306 yards rushing, which was the difference in the game.
In addition to a solid running game and some timely passes, the Lumberjacks used a bit of trickery on offense in the first half to pick up some big gains. During the plays, Tupper Lake would line up everyone but the quarterback and center near the sideline. It caused some confusion for the Larries.
"We wanted to open it up a little bit," Klossner said. "They are a good defense, especially when they are packed in. They are tough to run against. We wanted to spread them out as much as we could, so we did that with our little funky offense that we ran."
With the win, Tupper Lake improved to 2-5, while St. Lawrence fell to 1-6.
The Lumberjacks victory means they will host the Section X playoff game Friday night against St. Lawrence.
Klossner said his team will need to tackle better in this upcoming game if they want to pull out another win.
"We let them run around a little too much with the ball," he said. "We were there but they just kept escaping us. They are pretty good runners. We just got to wrap and keep 'em down."
Tupper Lake 28, St. Lawrence 14
TL - Keniston 28 pass to Tarbox (Gillis kick), 9:18
SL - Euto 5 pass to Burns (run failed), 3:09
TL - Roussel 9 run (Gillis kick), 2:48
SL - Euto 6 run (Euto pass to Smith), 9:47
TL - Keniston 29 run (kick failed), 8:00
TL - Kerst 8 run (Keniston pass to Lapierre), 4:12
TL - Keniston 14-114 TD, Kerst 5-28 TD, Roussel 20-120 TD, Charland 4-44. Totals: 43-306.
SL - Euto 5-14, Plante 2-4, LaBarge 4-4, Greer 12-42, Smith 3-17. Totals: 24-81.
TL - Keniston 3-11-1-58 TD
SL - Euto 8-17-0-104 TD, Smith 0-1-0.
TL - Kerst 1-15, Tarbox 2-43 TD. Totals: 3-58 TD.
SL - Smith 1-3, LaBarge 1-6, Burns 1-5 TD, LaFlesh 2-19, Ramsdell 3-61. Plante 1-9. Totals: 9- 104 TD.
SL - Ramsdell