CANTON - A week ago, Tupper Lake's football players came up just short of claiming their first victory of the season during a 14-13 loss to the unbeaten Gouverneur Wildcats.
The Lumberjacks weren't going to leave anything to chance on Saturday when they traveled to Canton for a Section X matchup between two winless teams. After a scoreless opening quarter, Tupper Lake notched three touchdowns in the second period and reached the end zone three more times in the second half on the way to a 41-14 victory over the Golden Bears.
The Class D Lumberjacks dominated on both sides of the line against an outmanned Canton squad, a struggling Class C program that had just five substitutes dressed for the game. With junior quarterback Mitch Keniston - who took over for an injured Morgan Stevens two weeks ago - at the helm, Tupper Lake churned out 350 yards on offense while the Lumberjacks defense allowed just 134 total yards. More than half of Canton's offensive output came on a single play, a 69-yard touchdown run by Payton VanBibber on the first snap of the third quarter.
Tupper Lake junior quarterback Mitch Keniston sprints past a Canton defender while picking up yardage during Saturday’s Section X football game on the Golden Bears’ field. The Lumberjacks claimed a 41-14 victory in the matchup.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"This was one of those games that we really needed for morale," Tupper Lake head coach Dennis Klossner said. "Everything came together today. Our offensive line, our defensive line, they did a great job. We ran well, our passing game was on track and we were solid on defense."
Keniston tossed two touchdown passes and ran for two more. Senior running back Tyler Minogue rushed for 110 yards on 20 carries. Two senior tight ends, Nick Bourbeau and Brandon Duchaine, grabbed their first receptions of the season, which both went for touchdowns, junior running back Jeremy Roussel ran for one score and place kicker Ian Gillis went 5-for-6 on conversion kicks.
The 'Jacks put together a 17-play, 63-yard drive for their first points. Keniston capped off the march with a 7-yard touchdown run 2:22 into the second quarter.
Canton's offense went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and a short punt gave Tupper Lake the ball at its own 49-yard line. Seven plays later, the Lumberjacks were in the end zone again when Duchaine hauled in an 11-yard pass from Keniston. Tupper Lake upped its lead to 20-0 just 20 seconds before halftime when Keniston ran for his second touchdown, a 1-yard sneak up the middle that capped off a 9-play drive.
Canton experienced one glimmer of hope at the start of the second half when VanBibber, a sophomore, swept around the right side of his line for a 69-yard touchdown run to cut the 'Jacks' edge to 20-6.
Tupper Lake, however, answered right back on its next possession. After Roussel returned the kickoff 25 yards and Canton was penalized 15 more yards on the play, the 'Jacks had the ball at the Golden Bears' 35. Eight plays later, Roussel scored on a 5-yard run and Gillis added his third conversion kick for a 27-6 Tupper Lake lead. The Lumberjacks scored one more time in the third quarter on a 16-yard touchdown reception by Bourbeau.
Both teams notched one touchdown in the final period, with Canton reaching the end zone on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Hunter Yerdon to Jay Proulx, and Tupper Lake rounding out the scoring when Minogue crossed the goal line on a 17-yard run with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
Tupper Lake's ball-control offense amassed an amazing 59 rushing attempts that accounted for 269 yards. In addition to Minogue surpassing the 100-yard rushing plateau, Roussel also had a big day running the ball with 50 yards on 10 carries. Also for the 'Jacks, Keegan Bombard gained 37 yards on six runs, Elliot Kerst gained 30 yards on eight carries, Keniston ran for 23 yards on nine attempts and Tanner Charland carried the ball six times for 19 yards.
Finding themselves in an early hole, the Golden Bears were forced to go to the air often without much success, netting just 35 yards passing. Yerdon finished the game with three completions for 29 yards and Proulx, who tossed five half-back option passes, had one completion for six yards and was picked off once by Keniston.
Tupper Lake senior defensive end and team captain Marcus Richer blocked three passes in the game.
"It's a great feeling getting the win, especially since this is my senior year," Richer said. "I'm happy for our guys. We put in a lot of work during the week to prepare for this game, and we got a lot of big hits out there today. We definitely came ready to play."
After breaking into the win column during their first road matchup of the season, the Lumberjacks will face a Section X power Saturday in Malone against the Franklin Academy Huskies. Klossner said he hopes to see his team's progress continue as the Lumberjacks move into the second half of their schedule.
"We were short on game experience at the start of the season," Klossner said. "Four games into the schedule, we have improved across the board. As the day go on, as the weeks go on, we are getting that game experience. We're getting better every week."
The opening kickoff for the Tupper Lake-Malone game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Tupper Lake 41, Canton 14
TL - Keniston 7 run (Gillis kick), 2:22
TL - Duchaine 11 pass from Keniston (Gillis kick), 7:31
TL - Keniston 1 run (Kick failed), 11:43
C - VanBibber 69 run (Kick failed), 11:41
TL - Roussel 5 run (Gillis kick), 4:07
TL - Bourbeau 16 pass from Keniston (Gillis kick), 10:09
C - Proulx 20 pass from Yerdon (Miller run), 3:18
TL - Minogue 17 run (Gillis kick), 8:10
Tupper Lake - Minogue 20-110 TD, Roussel 10-50 TD, Kerst 8-30, Keniston 9-23 2TDs, Charland 6-19, Bombard 6-37. Totals: 59-269 4TDs.
Canton - VanBibber 8-78 TD, Proulx 4-7, Yerdon 2-4, Miller 4-10. Totals: 18-99 TD.
Tupper Lake - Keniston 7-11-0-81 2TDs.
Canton - Yerdon 3-9-0-29 TD, Proulx 1-5-1-6. Totals: 4-13-1-35.
Tupper Lake - Tarbox 1-7, Minogue 2-16, Duchaine 1-11 TD, Roussel 1-10, LaPierre 1-21, Bourbeau 1-16 TD.
Canton - Proulx 3-29 TD, Yerdon 1-6.
Tupper Lake - Keniston.