Saranac Lake Red Storm topped by the Moriah Vikings
SARANAC LAKE — A much-anticipated matchup between two 2-0 football teams didn’t turn out to be a very close match at all.
On Saturday, Moriah made big plays all over the field and cruised to a 52-14 victory over Saranac Lake at Wilson Raymond Field.
On offense, Moriah mounted an unstoppable rushing attack that churned out 384 yards and six touchdowns, while the Vikings defense limited the Red Storm to 139 total yards, including just 42 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Rowen Swan also ran wild on special teams for the Vikings, taking Saranac Lake kickoffs into the end zone on runs of 94 and 72 yards.
Both teams appeared to be carrying heads of steam into the game after kicking off their Champlain Valley Athletic Conference schedules with two straight wins. But in the end, the visitors had a dominating day.
“I did not expect that score,” Vikings head coach Don Tesar said. “I watched Saranac Lake last week. They’re very big, they’re a physical team. We were able to get around to the outside and use our speed, and that was the big thing for us. They couldn’t catch us.”
The Vikings utilized 10 ball carriers in the game, but lost their starting running back Mason Spring on their first offensive play when he was assisted off the field after a seven-yard gain. But it was a no-worry scenario, as Riley Demarais was off to the races on the next snap when he rambled 32 yards for a touchdown.
Demarais finished as the game’s top ground gainer with 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Caleb Harris also ran for a pair of scores and 81 yards on seven attempts, and Dakota Wright and Declan Valentine ran for single touchdowns.
Saranac Lake got its first points with 3:48 left in the opening quarter when junior quarterback Brady Roberts hooked up with Marcus Navarra on a 34-yard scoring pass to cut Moriah’s lead to 14-7. The Vikings, however, answered with the next four touchdowns to have things well in hand by the middle of the third quarter.
Trailing 40-7, Saranac Lake added its other touchdown on a 64-yard kickoff return from junior AJ Moran with 4:51 remaining in the third, but Moriah responded in the same fashion on the very next play when Swan took the ensuing kick 72 yards into the end zone. The Vikings rounded out the scoring on a six-yard touchdown run by Declan Valentine with 4:41 left on the game clock.
“I thought we’d hold the edge a little better than we did,” Saranac Lake coach Eric Bennett said. “Hats off to Moriah. They have big powerful backs that once they got the edge, they were very difficult to bring down.
“We need to defend the whole field,” Bennett continued. “We need to recognize our adjustments to formations, we need to put our foot in the ground and come up and tackle and we need to block, too. We had a real difficulty with their front.”
Swan, who also turned in a standout performance on defense for Moriah, said the Vikings were well prepared for the showdown.
“We came in saying this was the game of the year almost A lot of people were looking forward to this game,” Swan said. “We worked really hard in practice and we just came out and executed.
“It really means a lot to start off the season like this with three wins,” he continued. “The last two seasons we started 0-2, so it’s really good to get back on that winning route. I think we’re looking good but we have a lot more to do.”
After pilling up 275 rushing yards in 36 carries in the Red Storm’s two wins, junior running back Carter Hewitt was held to 36 yards on the ground on 15 attempts as his team’s top ball carrier. Navarra, a sophomore, was the game’s top receiver with three catches for 75 yards.
Although Swan attempted just three passes and didn’t connect on any of them, Tesar said the junior had a huge impact on the outcome.
“We can develop mismatches with our receivers and our quarterback – he’s very athletic. He made a big difference today,” Tesar said. “He scrambles around. He’s tough to get.”
After beating their first three opponents by a combined 150-20 score, the Vikings are next scheduled to face Peru on the road Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. The Nighthawks are 2-0 after their first two games but did not play over the weekend after their contest slated for Friday against Plattsburgh was canceled due to positive COVID-19 cases on the team.
Saranac Lake is also slated to play Friday at Beekmantown with the opening kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. After beginning their season with two straight losses, the Eagles rebounded on Saturday with a 29-8 win over Saranac Central, which is the same team the Red Storm squeezed out a 29-28 win over in the second week of the season.
“Needless to say we have a lot of work to do,” Bennett said. “I’m proud of our kids. They worked hard but we have a long way to go. We have to reset on Monday, get our minds right, put our best foot forward and go get it.”
Moriah 52, Saranac Lake 14
M – 20 6 20 6 – 52
SL – 7 0 7 0 – 14
M – Wright 1 run (pass failed), :47
M – Demarais 2 run (Demarais run), 5:07
SL – Navarra 34 pass from Roberts (Faubert kick), 8:12
M – Swan 94 kick return (Pass failed), 8:27
M – Harris 10 run (Run failed), 8:30
M – Demarais 32 run (Sprague pass from Swan), 5:14
M – Harris 25 run (Run failed), 6:45
SL – Moran 64 kickoff return (Faubert kick), 7:09
M – Swan 72 kickoff return (Kick failed), 7:26
M – Valentine 6 run (Kick failed), 7:19.
Moriah – Spring 1-7, Wright 11-82 TD, Swan 3-17, Harris 7-81 2TDs, Demarais 7-136 2TDs, Peters 1-4, Valentine 5-42 2TDs, Ives 2-4, Gilbo 3-13, Fleury 1-1. Totals: 41-384 6TDs.
Saranac Lake – Hewitt 15-36, Roberts 2-(-5), Santiago 1-(-6), Hathaway 2-13, Snyder 1-(-4), Moran 2-8. Totals: 23-42.
Moriah – Swan -0-3-0-0.
Saranac Lake – Roberts 9-20-0-97.
Saranac Lake – Hewitt 3-20, Navarra 3-75 TD, Hathaway 1-1, Kratts 1-5, Faubert 1-(-4).