OGDENSBURG — After scoring touchdowns on its first two drives, the Ogdensburg Free Academy football team found itself struggling until finding its groove again in the second half, resulting in a 38-8 win over Watertown High School in an Northern Athletic Conference game Friday night.
OFA led 16-0 late in the first quarter but then saw one drive end with a fumble into the Cyclones’ end zone, another end with a fumble on the Watertown 18-yard line, and the next possession end with an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-2 play from the Watertown 7.
“I thought the kids kept playing and made some plays at times and we were able to keep (Watertown) out of the end zone in the second half,” said OFA coach Matt Tessmer, whose team improved to 5-1 overall.
“I thought we were playing well early. What happens is football is a momentum game and we turned the ball over. We lose that fumble in the end zone and we are going up three touchdowns at that point. That puts a different feeling on the game.”
The Blue Devils finally snapped out of their series of misfortune when Tristan Lovely, who missed the last two games with a wrist injury, scored on an eight-yard run with 5.1 seconds left in the third quarter to extend OFA’s lead to 24-8.
Lovely scored on a 38-yard run with 10:10 left in the game to extend the lead to 32-8. He also intercepted a pass when Watertown got to the OFA 9 late in the fourth quarter.
Lovely played only defense on the first few OFA series, but broke free for a 39-yard run on his first carry in the second quarter and finished with 129 yards on 11 carries.
“It feels great being back with the boys and getting everything back to normal,” Lovely said. “(The 39-yard run) felt great. I felt alive, just in the moment, back to my old self. There were great holes.”
Senior running back Stephen Morley sparked OFA’s offense early, gaining 61 yards on five carries in the first series of the game that ended with him catching a 7-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Jones.
Morley scored the game’s last touchdown on a 21-yard run and finished with 142 yards on 14 carries.
“Our offensive line did a great job and I was able to find the hole and make some magic and get some yards for our team,” Morley said.
OFA’s other offensive spark came from senior MeSean Johnson, who caught a 52-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and finished with 91 yards on four catches and rushed for 96 yards on 14 carries.
Senior quarterback Jackson Jones completed 6 of 11 passes for 113 yards.
OFA’s defense also did a good job containing Cyclones quarterback Deante Hall, who entered the game leading Section 10 in passing and rushing.
Hall gained 105 yards, and scored on a six-yard run, but it took 20 carries. He was 1-for-3 passing for 15 yards with an interception.
“The first half we played good the first few series (on defense), then we came out a little flat,” OFA’s Owen Warchol said. “We gave a really good effort in the second half. (Hall) is quick. He’s a good athlete. He will run you over or run around you.”
Watertown (3-3) stayed close for three quarters and had chances of its own to score that were thwarted. Hall appeared to score on a 29-yard run in the second quarter, but the play was called back for holding and the Cyclones wound up losing the ball on downs. Watertown also saw a pass intercepted in the end zone by John Powers in the third quarter.
“They executed better than us,” Cyclones coach Kyle LaLonde said. “We need to tackle better. We struggled tackling tonight. They came out and executed very well in the second half. That’s a good football team and we didn’t match their physicality at times.”