Huskies hold off Saranac Lake football
SARANAC LAKE — After suffering a tough shutout loss last week, the Saranac Lake football team didn’t get off to the hot start they had hoped for when they took on the Franklin Academy (Malone) Huskies at the Wilson-Raymond Field on Saturday.
The Huskies jumped out to a fast lead and hardly looked back. Malone took a six-point lead in the first quarter, which the team extended to 18 points by halftime, with two scores in the second quarter.
After the Huskies scored the first touchdown of the second half, the Red Storm scored twice to draw within 12 points. Malone eventually spoiled Saranac Lake’s chance at a comeback with a late touchdown run, en route to a 32-22 victory in the non-league matchup.
“In the first half, we had a turnover and a penalty that killed us. When you’re having the kind of season that we are, you can’t afford penalties and turnovers and that put us behind,” said Red Storm head coach Eric Bennett, whose team dropped to 1-4 with the loss. “But I’m really proud of the way the kids came out afterward and battled. Those kids showed a tremendous amount of heart and ultimately long-term, they are going to be great young men and better for it.”
Malone turned in a solid performance, with 345 yards of offense. On the other side of the ball, their defense came away with three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble recovery — while also blocking one punt.
Logan Peck led the way, scoring four Huskies touchdowns — three through the air and one on the ground. Peck completed 10 passing attempts for 212 yards and led the team with 68 rushing yards. Peck’s top target through the air was Jordan Perry, who hauled in seven receptions for 123 yards and two scores.
“(Peck) does a lot of good things. He throws the ball well when we need him to,” Huskies head coach Corey West said. “Obviously, when he’s in trouble he can use his legs and we can use him in the run game. He’s been with us for three years and he does a really good job for us running our offense, understanding our offense and puts us in big plays and executes them really well.”
After dropping its past two games by a combined score of 62-14, the Red Storm decided to switch things up under center with junior Zack Goetz taking over at quarterback, while senior Evan Willett started at running back. Bennett said the decision was made because Willett is a playmaker.
“Not that Zack isn’t, but Evan can be dynamic with the ball in his hand,” he said. “We’re just trying to find different ways to get him the ball and get some first downs.”
Willett recorded 55 rushing yards on 14 carries while scoring once on a 5-yard run. Goetz completed 5 of 16 passing attempts for 32 yards, with two of his completions to Willett. Goetz found more success on the ground, rushing for 70 yards on seven attempts. Senior Logan Daunais-Martelle had 22 yards on seven attempts, while also finding the back of the endzone on a 1-yard rush.
On the opening possession of the game, the Red Storm defense came up big when junior Connor Coventry intercepted Peck, giving Saranac Lake the ball on Malone’s 49. However, the Red Storm offense was forced into a four-play turnover on downs.
With the ball on their own 42-yard line, the Huskies drove 58 yards on six plays to open up the scoring with a 27-yard pass from Peck to Trent Carriere.
Trailing 6-0 near the end of the first quarter, Saranac Lake caught a big break when it forced Malone to a three-and-out and a bad snap on the punt gave the Red Storm offense the ball at the Huskies’ 35.
After Saranac Lake marched all the way to the Huskies’ 8-yard line, their hopes of scoring were cut short when the Red Storm fumbled a handoff, which a Malone defender was able to recover.
“Defensively, we played awesome in the first half,” West said. “The second part of the second quarter our offense started clicking and we were able to put some points up.”
Both teams were held to three-out-punts on their next possessions before the Huskies drove 77 yards with Peck finishing the seven-play drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Perry.
After the score, Perry picked off Goetz’s pass on the Red Storm’s next possession, giving his team the ball at their own 14-yard line. Malone responded to the interception with a seven-play drive, which was capped off by a 10-yard strike from Peck to Perry to take an 18-0 lead at halftime.
Trailing big after intermission, the Red Storm once again put themselves in a big hole, when its opening drive of the second half drive kicked off with a 15-yard penalty, followed by a 6-yard loss.
To make matters worse for Saranac Lake, Willett’s punt was blocked by Cooper Funk, giving the Huskies possession on the Red Storm 14-yard line. After three plays, Peck rushed into the endzone from 11 yards out. Malone tacked on two more points when Peck rushed in on the two-point attempt to push the score to 26-0.
The Red Storm offense finally came to life on its next possession, with a long 11-play drive, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Daunais-Martelle. The Red Storm missed the extra-point kick, making the score 26-6.
With the third quarter winding down, the Red Storm defense nearly sacked Peck on a fourth and sixth play, but the shifty quarterback was able to fight off multiple Saranac Lake defenders before throwing the ball away. However, an intentional grounding call on the play gave Saranac Lake the ball at Malone’s 27.
The Red Storm capitalized on the solid field position, with Willett rambling in from 5 yards out for the score. Goetz completed a short pass to Coventry on the two-point attempt to make the score 26-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by 12, Saranac Lake forced the Huskies into a turnover on downs. But with the ball back on their own 19-yard line, the Red Storm offense was unable to pick up a first down, giving Malone possession once again.
The Huskies needed just two plays before Caden Kempen split the Saranac Lake defense for a 20-yard rushing touchdown with 2:53 left in the game to close off a chance at a comeback.
“I give Saranac Lake a lot of credit,” West said. “They kept fighting and put a couple of scores on. We had to come down and luckily, we were able to put that one in and kind of seal it. Overall, it was up and down, but the guys hung and that was a big win for us.”
With the game essentially out of reach, Saranac Lake marched 60 yards, and Emerson Sloan capped off the drive with a 1-yard rush for his first career varsity touchdown. The Red Storm brought the game within 10 after Owen Muncil scored on the two-point attempt.
The win was the Huskies’ second victory of the season, improving their overall record to 2-3. The team is slated to return home on Friday to face Potsdam at 7 p.m. West said the next two weeks will determine where his team will seed in playoffs.
“This was a good springboard for the next two games,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep the momentum going and not have the walls and just try to play four quarters or a football game the next two weeks.”
Despite dropping its past three games, Bennett was proud of how his team has continued to battle until the very end of each contest.
“There’s no question we had a lot of challenges in front of us, but I can say this about this team, they never implode, they never quit and they keep grinding,” Bennett said. “Real growth comes through real hardship and we’re growing a lot. We just hope to keep the ship moving forward.”
Saranac Lake will take on the Moriah Vikings on the road Saturday in a league game. The opening kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Franklin Academy (Malone) 32, Saranac Lake 22
Huskies 6 12 8 6 — 32
Red Storm 0 0 6 16 — 22
M — Carriere 27 pass from Peck (Pass failed), 7:41
M — Perry 30 pass from Peck (Pass failed), 8:15
M — Perry 10 pass from Peck (Pass failed), 11:19
M — Peck 11 run (Peck run), 3:00
SL — Daunais-Martelle 1 run (Kick misses), 8:24
SL — Willett 5 run (Coventry pass from Goetz), 1:55
M — Kempen 20 run (Pass failed), 9:07
SL — Sloan 1 run (Muncil run), 10:19
M — Warner 14-33; Peck 15-68, TD; A. Debose 5-11; Kempen 2-21 TD. Totals: 36-133, 2TDs.
SL — Willett 14-55, TD; Goetz 7-70; Daunais-Martelle 7-22, TD; Sloan 2-5, TD; Muncil 2-2; Nicholas 3-4. Totals: 35-158, 3TDs.
M — Peck 10-24-1-212, 3TDs.
SL — Goetz 5-16-2-32.
M — Perry 7-123, 2TDs; West 2-62; Carriere 1-27 TD. Totals: 10-212, 3TDs.
SL — Willett 2-13; Rivers 1-8; Muncil 1-8; Coventry 1-3. Totals: 5-32.
M — Perry, Carriere.
SL — Coventry.