Bears rebound to beat Tupper

Tupper Lake senior Skyler Pickering blasts through the Canton defense during the third quarter of Friday night’s game in Tupper Lake. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

TUPPER LAKE — In the midst of a season of setbacks, the Tupper Lake football team played their most inspired half of football Friday night, but it was not enough to best the visiting Canton Bears. The Lumberjacks fell 42-7.

After losing players to injury and cancelling a game a few weeks ago, Tupper Lake came out strong in the first half of Section X football action Friday at home. Canton managed to put six points on the board early on, but the Lumberjacks answered quickly, scoring a touchdown and earning their first lead of the season on a Wild Cat-style play late in the first quarter.

“It’s called scrambled eggs,” Brennen McComber said of his touchdown play. “It’s to get the whole defense to get to the side where our linemen are so we can get an opening for our center to either run it out and leave him open or for me to run the ball.

“And we caught them off guard as we’re all going to the side where our linemen are. So we got an early snap so I just got in there and scored.”

This was McComber’s first game back after a concussion, and he filled a huge role at quarterback when starter Noah Cordes got dinged up.

Tupper Lake’s Skyler Pickering, left, pushes Canton’s Ian Rayburn toward the sideline Friday night in Tupper Lake. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“It felt good actually. My first game I scored, it felt good,” he said.

The Lumberjacks continued solid play through the first half, stifling the Bears so much that Canton turned the ball over on downs to start the second quarter. Tupper Lake played solid defense and looked decent on special teams, but the Bears soon got their feet under them and started to run up the score.

Canton’s Cody Sipher started the Bears’ 36-0 run with a nice catch in the corner and extra effort to get the ball into the end zone as he was strode out of bounds.

Tupper Lake played well enough to force a Canton punt late in the first half, but the Bears pulled a fake punt and turned it into a 31-yard gain and first down. The Bears’ junior Declan Porter showed how he earned the starting quarterback slot, floating a pass to the back of the end zone to Sipher who easily pulled it in for another score. Canton failed to convert on the 2-point conversion, leaving the score at 20-7 going into the half.

After the break, Tupper Lake struggled, turning the ball over on downs after receiving the ball to start the second half. Canton had a few self-inflicted penalties that gave the Lumberjacks some breathing room, but it wasn’t enough for Tupper Lake to stage a comeback.

Tupper Lake players Brennen McComber and Cody Pioli (31) take down Canton running back Robert Beaudin during the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game in Tupper Lake. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Canton dominated the third and fourth quarters, putting another three touchdowns and a 2-point conversion on the board to run away with the game.

Tupper Lake hasn’t notched a win yet this year, but coach Dennis Klossner saw a lot to be hopeful for in the first half of play.

“We started out real strong, we had a good first half,” Klossner said. “We started getting a little dinged up with injuries and the low numbers hurt for the second half.

“But I was very happy, very proud of the way the kids played. Our line I thought did a good job early in the game opening up holes. We had a really good first half, but fatigue and injuries took a toll.”

Klossner noted that both Cordes and McComber played well under center, and said the Lumberjacks had plenty of bright spots in the loss.

Canton junior Patrick Recor jumps to bring in a touchdown throw as Drew Denis defends during the third quarter Friday night in Tupper Lake. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“The good thing was, we can move the ball,” he said. “We can be physical, we can do the job. We just gotta keep plugging away and keep working.”

Canton coach Tom Cloce said that despite Tupper Lake’s record, he was not going to underestimate the home team.

“Tupper Lake has got a good team,” Cloce said. “They came out and punched us right in the face right off. We went down and scored, they went down and scored.

“I wasn’t taking them lightly, and I think some of my players were. But I think at the end what happened was, we started getting back to what we know and started executing some plays and getting some points.

“I told my guys over on the sidelines I said ‘Don’t be fooled with this team. They’re playing at home on Senior Night and this community supports their football program. I don’t underestimate any program, and certainly not Tupper. These guys are hungry.”

The Lumberjacks travel to Ogdensburg to play the Blue Devils on next Friday night at 7 p.m.