TUPPER LAKE - Tupper Lake's football team went out on a winning note in its final home football game of the season, defeating St. Lawrence 21-6 Friday at Frank Tice Field.
It was the second time in six days the Lumberjacks got the better of the Larries, and both games turned out to be hard-fought contests. When the teams met the first time, the 'Jacks scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break open a tie game and win 28-14.
On Friday, St. Lawrence grabbed a 6-0 lead in the second quarter when Deon Euto tossed an 11-yard scoring pass to Todd Ramsdell, and Tupper Lake answered with three touchdowns and a trio of successful extra-point kicks from Ian Gilis to claim the victory.
Tupper Lake junior quarterback Mitch Keniston breaks through a hole on a running play as St. Lawrence defenders David LaPlante (21) and Tyler Smith attempt to make a tackle during Friday’s game at Frank Tice Field.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Mitch Keniston scored two touchdowns, one on each side of the ball, to lead the 'Jacks. His first score was on a 9-yard run in the third quarter, with the second touchdown coming with 16 seconds remaining in the game on a 22-yard interception return that slammed the door shut on the Larries.
Jermey Roussel also crossed the goal line for the Lumberjacks on a 2-yard run late in the second quarter that erased the Larries early edge and sent Tupper Lake into halftime with a 7-6 lead.
With the win, the Lumberjacks improved to 3-5 in Section X action and will next face Massena on the road Friday in a crossover game. Win or lose, the Lumberjacks will be back in Massena in two weeks to play in the Section X-VII, Class D championship game against either Moriah or Ticonderoga.
Tupper Lake head coach Dennis Klossner said his team's defense played a big role in Friday's victory. On a slippery, wet field, the Lumberjacks defense held the Larries to just 29 rushing yards and 82 yards passing.
"Our defense was the best part of this game," Klossner said. "St. Lawrence is a very good team. They gave a lot their opponents a tough time this season, and I thought we did a good job defending tonight. We came up with some big stops when they were threatening, and that was a key to this win."
The Lumberjacks ran the ball 50 times for 161 yards, with Roussel leading the way with 82 yards on 20 carries. Keniston followed with 60 yards on 16 attempts on a night when Tupper Lake struggled throwing the football.
"We didn't get our passing game going like we wanted," Klossner added. "On offense, our running game got us through."
After a scoreless opening quarter, St. Lawrence took advantage of a Tupper Lake turnover to put the first points on the board. Deep in their end of the field, the Lumberjacks coughed the ball up when Keniston fumbled on the third play of the second quarter, which set up St. Lawrence at the 'Jacks' 15-yard line. After picking up just four yards in three plays, Euto connected with Ramsdell in the corner of the end zone on a fourth-down pass.
The lead didn't last long as Tupper Lake scored on its next possession, marching 68 yards in 13 plays, with Roussel capping off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown carry through the middle of the line.
The Lumberjacks also took their first possession of the second half into the end zone after starting with the ball in great field position at the Larries' 37 following a punt. Staying on the ground, Tupper Lake ran 10 straight times, with Keniston reaching the end zone on a 9-yard run on a fourth-down-and-seven carry. Keniston's touchdown came with 5:04 remaining in the third quarter and gave the Lumberjacks a 14-6 edge.
Facing a win and play one more game or a lose and the season's over situation, the Larries battled hard looking to even the score. On the kickoff following Tupper Lake's second touchdown, Ramsdell returned the ball all the way to the Lumberjacks' 21-yard line. But on that possession, the St. Lawrence offense was unable to move the chains and turned the ball over on downs.
The Larries mounted another advance in the final quarter that went even deeper into Tupper Lake territory. Gaining possession of the ball at their own 29 with 5:44 left in the game, the Larries utilized a mix of runs and passes while driving all the way to the Lumberjacks' 9-yard line. But that series also ended on downs, as an Euto-to-Ramsdell pass completion on fourth down picked up nine yards, which was about two feet short of moving the chains.
The loss ended St. Lawrence's season, with the Larries finishing with a 1-8 record. Despite earning just one win, it was a big step in the right direction for a program that is looking to become more competitive.
"This was a very emotional game for our guys," St. Lawrence coach Bill Scharf said. "We had 13 seniors on playing in their last game who have essentially been teammates for the past four seasons. It's a family setting and they all call each other brothers.
"When I started with this team two years ago, it was all sophomores," Scharf added. "We were competitive this year. We scored touchdowns when we needed them. We played good football. This year's team, these guys, they are the ones who are going to get this football program rolling."
"I have to give St. Lawrence a lot of credit," Klossner said. "They battled hard week in and week out. I think they are heading in the right direction."
Tupper Lake 21, St. Lawrence 6
SL - Ramsdell 11 pass from Euto (Run failed), 3:30
TL - Roussel 2 run (Gillis kick), 10:15
TL - Keniston 9 run (Gillis kick), 6:54
TL - Keniston 22 interception return (Gillis kick), 11:44
St. Lawrence - LaPlante 3-8, Euto 5-4, Greer 11-17. Totals: 19-29.
Tupper Lake - Keniston 16-60 TD, Roussel 20-82 TD, Kerst 11-8, Charland 3-11. Totals: 50-161 2TDs.
St. Lawrence - Euto 9-20-1-82 TD, Burns 0-4-1-0. Totals: 9-24-2-82 TD.
Tupper Lake - Keniston 4-7-0-48.
St. Lawrence - LaPlante 5-53, Ramsdell 2-20 TD, Smith 1-5, LaBarge 1-4.
Tupper Lake - LaPierre 2-9, Roussel 2-39.
Tupper Lake - Keniston, Tarbox