GOUVERNEUR — The Watertown High School football team received a rough welcome back to Northern Athletic Conference football, falling 60-22 to three-time defending champion Gouverneur on Saturday afternoon.
The Cyclones’ first NAC game since 2000 started well as Watertown’s Jude Converse returned the opening kickoff 27 yards to the Gouverneur 44.
That was followed by an efficient seven-play opening drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Deante Hall to Johnny Turner, giving the Cyclones a 6-0 lead. But a bad snap on the ensuing extra-point attempt led to a failed run attempt and signaled the trials to come.
“We took (the Watertown touchdown) as a challenge and we used it as motivation to keep ourselves upbeat and to score in retaliation,” said Gouverneur’s Cayden Stowell.
Gouverneur answered the Watertown score by going on a six-play, 67-yard drive, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run from quarterback Caleb Farr, who also ran in a 2-point conversion to give the Wildcats the lead for good.
Stowell ran for 23 yards on Gouverneur’s first play, setting a tone for a rushing offense that produced 454 yards on 51 carries in the game, averaging 8.9 yards per carry as a team.
“I thought we were going to be very fast, very strong,” said Gouverneur lineman Brock Cox. “We did very well. We opened up holes for our running backs and our quarterback. It feels great. If we do our job we are going to get a win.”
Gouverneur upped the lead to 16-6 after Farr scored on a 1-yard run on a fourth-and-goal attempt, followed by a 2-point conversion on a run from Joseph Cummings.
Farr scored a third straight touchdown, on another 1-yard run early in the second quarter, followed by a Mitchell Shippee 2-point run to extend the lead to 24-6.
Watertown answered the early adversity with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Converse to cut the lead to 24-14 with 2 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first half.
Despite relying almost strictly on the run, the Wildcats were able to get one last touchdown before the end of the first half when Kyle Savage scored on a 10-yard run with 13 seconds left in the first half to give Gouverneur a 32-14 edge. Earlier in the drive Stowell picked up a 24-yard run and Farr connected with Mitchell Shippee on an 18-yard pass.
“We’ve been saying all (preseason) if (the offensive line) jells, we can do some great things,” Gouverneur coach Sean Devlin said. “It seemed like today they jelled. We only had one guy that played today that took a snap on the offensive line last year. We had a lot of guys step and do their job.”
Farr, who finished with 136 yards rushing on 18 carries, scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game with a 43-yard burst early in the third quarter. He then threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Stowell later in the quarter to extend Gouverneur’s lead to 46-14.
“We were able to block the ball really well today and run the ball,” Farr said. “We had (few) turnovers. I thought we played great.”
The Wildcats turned to the reserves in the fourth quarter and Cummings scored on an 18-yard run to make it 53-14.
Watertown responded with a 10-yard touchdown run from Hall, who earlier in the drive had connected on a 32-yard pass to Donavon Millan, for the Cyclones’ final score of the game.
“We had a good (opening) drive and sometimes it’s just football and you don’t repeat yourself all the time,” Watertown coach Kyle LaLonde said. “I thought we had some very good plays today and some not good plays. We’ve got stuff to work on. Gouverneur is a great team and we knew this was going to be a tough game right from the start. There’s a reason why they only lost one game last year.”
Gouverneur’s Mitchell Tyler scored with 6:16 remaining on a 16-yard run for the final scoring play of the game.
Hall finished with 193 yards passing for the Cyclones and added 53 yards rushing.