OGDENSBURG — The Gouverneur football team scored three touchdowns in its first seven plays and went on to cruise to a 60-20 victory over Section 7 champion Saranac Lake in a state Class C first round game Saturday afternoon at Ogdensburg Free Academy.
The Wildcats (9-0 overall), ranked No. 8 in the state poll, will face No. 3 Stillwater (10-0), the Section 2 champions, in a quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Friday at Mohonasen High School in Rotterdam.
“I think we are a turf team,” Wildcats coach Sean Devlin said. “We knew we could run a little bit on the turf, being here at OFA. We knew we had some wheels and we were going to try to use them. We’ve played here a lot. We’ve won a lot of football games in-season and postseason, and they treat us well here and we are happy to be here.”
The game started well for Saranac Lake (6-4), which squibbed the opening kickoff off the chest of a Gouverneur player, recovering the ball on their own 47. The Red Storm made it to Gouverneur’s 27 before it was stopped on downs.
“They’ve got a lot of speed, that’s obvious,” Red Storm coach Eric Bennett said of the Wildcats. “They are a really physical team, and they got to the edge and we just couldn’t keep up. We had to capitalize on every break you get and when you don’t, it come backs to haunt you.”
Four plays into Gouverneur’s first offensive series, Cayden Stowell broke free for a 53-yard run, followed by a 2-point conversion run from quarterback Caleb Farr, to give the Wildcats an 8-0 lead.
Jared Wilson intercepted a pass on Saranac Lake’s next offensive possession, and on the very next play, Gouverneur’s Mitchell Tyler broke free around the corner and scored on a 60-yard run, followed by another Farr conversion, to make it 16-0.
Saranac Lake finally enjoyed some success the next time it got the ball, moving 90 yards on 13 plays, capped by a 22-yard run from quarterback Rhett Darrah, to cut the Wildcats lead to 16-6 early in the second quarter.
But two plays after the Red Storm scored, Gouverneur broke another long run, this time with Farr scampering 47 yards, followed by a 2-point run from Mitchell Tyler to extend the lead to 24-6.
“A lot of it was just knowing what you were looking at, being able to read stuff and split-second decisions,” said Wildcats offensive lineman Tyler Tupper. “A lot of it is one good block opens it up for another good block and our running backs just take it home.”
Saranac Lake made a big play of its own, a 61-yard touchdown pass from Darrah to Sam Donaldson, to cut Gouverneur’s lead to 24-14.
The Wildcats closed out the half with an 8-play, 61 yard drive, ending with an 8-yard run by Tyler to take a 30-14 halftime lead.
Gouverneur relied on its special teams for its next touchdown in the third quarter when Stowell returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 38-14.
“I always take a couple steps toward the middle and then I break it towards the outside and use my speed,” Stowell said of his return. “I take it upon myself to get the team motivated and it always sets the tone with a big play like that. I do what I can to get every yard and sometimes I can break the corner and use my speed as an advantage.”
Saranac Lake scored its final touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard pass from Darrah to David Warner, making it 38-20. Other than a few long passes from Darrah, Gouverneur’s defense frustrated the Red Storm, led by 13 tackles from Jacob Shippee.
“I felt we came out strong,” Shippee said. “We just did our job and shut them down. (Turnovers) got us psyched and kept the game going.”
Farr scored on another long run, this time 33 yards, to put Gouverneur ahead 46-20 with 9 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game.
Gouverneur’s next touchdown came when Darrah tried a pass behind the line of scrimmage that went past his intended receiver. Gouverneur’s Joseph Cummings picked up the loose ball and ran 38 yards for a touchdown.
The final touchdown came on a 3-yard run from Kyle Savage.
Farr led Gouverneur with 125 yards rushing on 17 carries. Tyler gained 109 yards on seven carries. Darrah completed 10 of 20 passes for 160 yards for the Red Storm and gained 68 yards rushing on 16 carries.