TUPPER LAKE - The Tupper Lake football team rallied to win its season opener Friday, topping St. Lawrence Central 30-28 in a back-and-forth battle under the lights at Frank Tice Field.
The Lumberjacks and the Larries, who appeared to be a much-improved team from recent seasons, played a very entertaining matchup that was decided when senior quarterback Morgan Stevens scored on a 3-yard run near the halfway point of the fourth quarter. The Tupper Lake signal caller's run knotted the score at 28-28, and senior running back Jeremy Roussell then crossed the goal line with the winning points on the conversion run.
In a game that saw each team score three times on plays of 51 yards or longer, the Larries had one last chance to jump ahead in the final two minutes, but their drive ended at the Tupper Lake 9-yard line when Roussell recovered a fumble on a fourth-down play.
Tupper Lake’s Jeremy Roussell finds running room during Friday’s home game against St. Lawrence. The senior running back rushed for a game-high 149 yards on 24 carries.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"That's the best St. Lawrence football team I've ever seen," Tupper Lake head coach Dennis Klossner said. "They put up a fight right to the end."
Roussell and Mitch Keniston, another senior, were among the top performers for the Lumberjacks. Roussell rushed for 149 yards on 24 carries and also scored twice on conversion runs. Keniston scored on two long plays, which both came in the first half. Keniston's first touchdown came on 57-yard pass from Stevens, and he also returned a punt 77-yards to paydirt to send the 'Jacks into halftime with a 22-14 edge.
The Larries took the lead on the first possession of the game. driving 66 yards on 11 plays with senior running back David Plante scoring on a 12 burst. The conversion run failed, and it took Tupper Lake just one play to answer when Stevens hooked up with Keniston on the Jacks' only touchdown pass of the night.
With the score knotted a 6-6, the teams then traded touchdowns on return plays. The Larries got the first one, when David Plante mishandled a punt, but scooped the up the ball and raced 91 yards to give his team a 12-6 edge with 1:45 left in the opening quarter. Quarterback Mike Burns then connected with Leroy Gotham on a conversion pass to up the visitors lead to 14-6.
The Lumberjacks answered right back when Cody LaPierre returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, and Roussell scored on the conversion run to deadlock the game at 14-14 with 1:30 remaining in the first.
Tupper Lake recorded the only points of the second stanza on Keniston's punt return near the middle of the quarter.
St. Lawrence scored the only points in the third quarter on a pair of touchdown plays. The first came on a 51-yard run by freshman Mike Plante 2:40 into the period, and David Plante put the Larries on top with 46 seconds left in the stanza on a 52-yard reception of a Burns pass. David Plante's touchdown gave St. Lawrence a 26-22 edge with 46 seconds left in the quarter, and Mark Crump added to more points to the total on a conversion run.
The Lumberjacks scoring drive began in the third quarter and ended in the fourth when Stevens capped off a 11-play march that covered 58 yards on his 3-yard plunge up the middle with 6:50 left on the game clock. Tupper Lake benefitted from an interference call in the end zone on a fourth-down play from the 11-yard line. Instead of turning over the ball on downs, Tupper Lake got another set of downs starting at the 5-yard line and scored two plays later.
The run by Stevens tied the contest at 28-28, and Roussell put Tupper Lake on top for good with the following conversion run.
Mike Plante paced the St. Lawrence ground attack, rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
"I'm happy with what I saw tonight," St. Lawrence head coach Bill Scharf said. "Many of the guys who we have on this team have been playing together for the past three or four years, and they've really worked hard.
"When we started looking toward turning things around, this was the group of guys who were going to do it," Scharf continued. "I'm really proud of what they've shown us. Offensively, we moved the ball. The kids are hitters. They are a solid group."
"It's great having an athletic guy like Mitch on our team, and Jeremy Roussell really came on for us tonight," Klossner said. "They are both big parts of this team. Overall, I'm pretty happy. The big thing we need to work on is our tackling. We missed a lot of tackles, especially early on.
Tupper Lake 30, St. Lawrence 28
SL - M. Plante 12 run (Run failed), 4:56
TL - Keniston 57 pass from Stevens (Pass failed), 5:07
SL - D. Plante 91 punt return (Gotham pass from Burns), 10:15
TL - LaPierre 78 kickoff return (Roussell run), 10:30
TL - Keniston 77 punt return (LaMere pass from Stevens), 7:52
SL - M. Plante 51 run (Run failed), 2:40
SL - D. Plante 52 pass from Burns (Crump run), 11:14
TL - Stevens 3 run (Roussell run), 5:10
St. Lawrence - D. Plante 15-76, Burns 5-(-19), M. Plante 14-105 2TDs, LaBarge 3-12, Agen 4-12, Gotham 1-2, Crump 1-2. Totals: 43-190 2TDs.
Tupper Lake - Roussell 24-149, Stevens 8-26 TD, LaVassaur 2-13, LaPierre 1-(-1), Keniston 2-0. Totals: 37-187 TD.
St. Lawrence - Burns 5-11-0-134 TD.
Tupper Lake - Stevens 4-8-0-89 TD.
St. Lawrence - Agen 2-55, D. Plante 3-79 TD.
Tupper Lake - Keniston 1-57 TD, LaPierre 2-12. LaMere 1-20.