TUPPER LAKE - Tupper Lake scored two touchdowns in the final minutes to nearly pull off a comeback against Malone in a battle of evenly matched teams Friday night.
Unfortunately for Tupper Lake, it fell just short as the Lumberjacks lost by a score of 25-24.
Tupper Lake scored the first of its fourth quarter touchdowns when quarterback Morgan Stevens hit tight end Roger DeLair with an 18-yard touchdown pass with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left. The Lumberjacks failed on the two-point conversion, leaving the score at 25-18.
Tupper Lake receiver Mitch Keniston catches a pass in traffic late in fourth quarter of Friday night's game against Malone.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
The touchdown capped off a 65-yard drive that included two big catches from wide receiver Mitch Keniston, who caught a 33-yard pass and a 15-yard pass.
After the touchdown, Tupper Lake forced Malone to punt the ball after a series of downs from its own 45.
On the punt, Keniston returned the ball 30 yards to the 50-yard line and then was hit by a Malone defender after he had stepped out of bounds. The referees threw a personal foul flag and tacked on another 15 yards to the end of the play, giving the Lumberjacks the ball at Malone's 35-yard line with 1:41 left in the game.
Trailing by seven points, Stevens hit Keniston down the middle for a 35-yard touchdown pass to bring the Lumberjacks within one point.
"We try to find him. He's a big target," Tupper Lake coach Dennis Klossner said of Keniston. "He's got great hands and that was the plan. Try to get him downfield a little more, stretch the field a little bit and we threw it up there and he comes up with the ball. He did a real good job catching the ball today."
But Tupper Lake was unable to tie the game as Cody LaPierre missed an extra point kick.
With Tupper Lake not having any more timeouts left, Malone was able to run out the clock to win the game.
Despite the loss, Klossner was proud of the way his team played, fighting until the ending against a school with a much bigger enrollment.
"They did a great job," Klossner said. "They fought right through until the end, even when they were down two scores they didn't give up. They kept their heads up and we played with great intensity. Here we are, the only (Class) D school playing a big B like that. I mean, we hit with them all day. We did everything we needed to do. We're just a little out of sync early in the game but we got things together."
The Lumberjacks once again had a balanced attack on offense. Running back Jeremy Roussel had 25 carries for 89 yards and Stevens was 10-of-25 for 188 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
He was able to utilize a number of receivers on the day led by Keniston, who finished with five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Delair also had a strong game with two catches for 43 yards and a TD and LaPierre had one catch for nine yards.
One of the best pass plays of the game was a screen between Stevens and running back Brasen LaVassaur, who rambled 34 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. At the time, the pass gave Tupper Lake a 12-7 advantage.
The Lumberjacks held onto that lead heading into halftime. But Malone was able to take the lead in the third quarter when Abe Gravell returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown. Malone was unable to convert an extra point kick but took a 13-12 lead.
The Huskies tacked on two touchdowns. The first came on a six-yard run by running back Zachary Raymond, who also had a 26-yard run in the second quarter. Raymond finished with 52 yards on 10 runs.
The second score came on a 10-yard run by Tucker Bartenslager with 4:48 in the game. Bartenslager had a strong half, carrying the Huskies running game. He finished with 10 runs for 51 yards.
"It was a big win for us," Huskies coach Greg Marshall said. "We've been kind of struggling. I think we played some of the better teams. We came up here it was a long trip. We didn't play too well the first half and the kids really hung in there and come out in the second half."
Both teams now have a 2-3 record.
"We just got beat in a couple of plays," Marshall said. "We were playing hard and they were coming hard."
Malone 25, Tupper Lake 24
Tupper Lake - Stevens 1 run (kick failed), 6:16
Malone - Raymond 26 run (Gallagher kick), 2:37
Tupper Lake - LaVassaur 34 pass from Stevens (pass failed), 6:05
Malone - Gravell 70 punt return (kick failed), 3:58
Malone - Raymond 6 run (pass failed), 9:01
Malone - Bartenslager 10 run (kick failed), 4:48
Tupper Lake - Delair 18 pass from Stevens (pass failed), 3:33
Tupper Lake - Keniston 35 pass from Stevens (kick failed) 1:41
M - Gallagher 5-46, Perry 5-12, Smith 3-10, Raymond 10-52 2TD, Bartenslager 10-51 TD. TOTALS: 33-171 3TDs.
TL - Roussel 25-89, Stevens 1-1 TD, LaPierre 1-1. TOTALS: 27-91 TD.
M - Henning 1-4-21, Gallagher 2-5-33. TOTALS: 3-9-54.
TL - Stevens 10-25-188 3TDs
M - Lamica 1-21, Raymond 2-33. TOTALS: 3-54.
TL - LaPierre 1-9, Keniston 5-102 TD, DeLair 2-43 TD, LaVassaur 1-34 TD, Rousell 1-0: TOTALS: 10-188 3 TDs