SARANAC LAKE - For the second week in a row, Saranac Lake's football team took what was expected to be a much closer matchup and turned it into a one-sided affair.
On Saturday in their home-opener at Ken Wilson Field, the Red Storm rolled to a 41-6 victory over Moriah to improve to 2-0 in the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference.
Running back Lance Ackerson rushed for three touchdowns and quarterback Matt Phelan ran for two more and tossed one scoring pass to Kevin Morgan to lead the Saranac Lake offense. On the other side of the line, the Red Storm defense blanked a Vikings team that put 39 points on the board in its season-opening win against Plattsburgh.
Saranac Lake senior receiver Kevin Morgan races 46 yards for a third-quarter receiving touchdown during Saturday’s 41-6 Red Storm victory over Moriah at Ken Wilson Field in Saranac Lake. Two games into the season, Morgan has 233 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Two games into the schedule, Saranac Lake's offense has already put 68 points on the scoreboard while its defense has essentially shutout two opponents while recording six takeaways with five interceptions and a fumble recovery. In their first game of the season, the Red Storm held a 27-0 lead over Peru until the Indians scored a late touchdown on Saranac Lake's backup players. On Saturday, Moriah's only points came on a punt return.
"We had a very good day. Our kids executed extremely well," Saranac Lake head coach Eric Bennett said after Saturday's win. "Our offense was clicking, and our defense played great again in week two."
Phelan got Saranac Lake going with a pair of rushing scores in the opening quarter on runs of 16 and 60 yards, which give the senior quarterback four touchdowns running in two games. Moriah got back into the game briefly when junior Jessup Calkins returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown 1:30 into the second quarter to cut Saranac Lake's edge to 12-6, but the Red Storm dominated the rest of the way by scoring 29 unanswered points while blanking the Vikings.
Ackerson, a junior fullback, scored three straight touchdowns on second-quarter runs of 3 and 15 yards and a 5-yard burst up the middle into the end zone in the third quarter. Morgan then added the sixth Red Storm touchdown and his third of the season when he caught a bullet-pass from Phelan near the line of scrimmage in front of the Moriah bench, cut across the field, and outraced the defense on a 46-yard sprint to pay dirt.
Saranac Lake also got points on a pair of 2-point conversion passes from Phelan to Morgan and TJ Monroe and a conversion kick from Seth Pickreign.
Morgan and fellow senior receiver Mike Burpoe both had a big day catching passes from Phelan, who completed 12 of 15 attempts for 206 yards. Morgan was on the receiving end of six of those tosses and gained 132 yards for his second-straight 100-yard plus receiving day. Burpoe finished with 74 receiving yards on four catches, including two receptions of 22 and 33 yards on the drive that set up Ackerson's third touchdown run early in the third quarter.
After routing Plattsburgh in their season opener, head coach Don Tesar probably realized early on that his Vikings were outmatched against the Red Storm. The fact that his team was also flagged for six illegal motion calls on offense and three more offside penalties on defense didn't help the cause.
"Saranac Lake has athletes all over the field," Tesar said. "Phelan can move, and that No. 12 (Morgan), he's a great athlete. He's really good at making adjustments after the catch.
"At times we found some room to move, but we really hurt ourselves with all those procedure penalties," Tesar added. "I don't think we had any in our first game. I don't know if we were nervous or what, but hat's off to Saranac Lake. They have a good football team."
Saranac Lake's defense held Moriah to just 67 yards rushing and picked off junior quarterback Cole Gaddor three times, with Pickreign, Morgan and Derek Thurber each having one interception. Gaddor completed 5 of his 13 attempts for 36 yards. Junior Cameron Wright was Moriah's top offensive player, picking up 50 rushing yards on 16 attempts.
Saranac Lake's running backs combined for 245 yards on the ground on 29 attempts, including nine runs good for 10 or more yards. Next to Phelan's 60-yard touchdown play, junior Dylan Gunther had the run of the day when he broke free on a 43-yard jaunt on the Red Storm's opening possession to set up their first score.
"That was a great run by Dylan on that opening drive," Bennett said. "He kind of set the tone for us. It took us a little while to get going in our first game, but our kids looked really comfortable today. We have some athletes on this team, and when they are on, they are fun to watch."
Saranac Lake, a Class C team, and the Class D Vikings will meet up at Ken Wilson Field again in the eighth week of the season. The Red Storm's next game will be at Ticonderoga Friday, with the opening kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m.
Saranac Lake 41, Moriah 6
|SL — Phelan 16 run (Kick failed), 4:19|
|SL — Phelan 60 run (Kick failed), 10:42|
|M — Calkins 56 punt return (Kick failed), 1:30|
|SL — Ackerson 3 run (Morgan pass from Phelan), 4:30|
|SL — Ackerson 14 run (Monroe pass from Phelan), 9:28|
|SL — Ackerson 5 run (Kick failed), 3:05|
|SL — Morgan 46 pass from Phelan (Pickreign kick), 6:16|
|Moriah — Whalen 3-11, Wright 16-50, Shpur 1-9, Nephew 3-(-4), Gaddor 2-(-3), Beeman 1-4. Totals: 26-67.|
|Saranac Lake — Gunther 2-42, Ackerson 9-43 3TDs, Phelan 3-77 2TDs, Pickreign 3-23, Morgan 1-10, Thurber 2-1, Grebe 3-(-8), Fitzgerald 2-8, Monroe 4-40. Totals: 29-245 5TDs.|
|Moriah — Gaddor 5-13-3-36.|
|Saranac Lake — Phelan 12-15-1-206 TD.|
|Moriah — Whelan 1-5, Wright 1-0, Stockwell 1-9, Calkins 2-22.|
|Saranac Lake — Morgan 6-132 TD, Ackerson 1-(-2), Burpoe 4-74, McCabe 1-2.|
|Moriah — Gaddor.|
|Saranac Lake — Pickreign, Morgan, Thurber.|