OGDENSBURG — Right from the opening play, Gouverneur’s football team used its speed as well as its linemen to set a tone against Ogdensburg Free Academy on its way to a 42-14 rout of the Blue Devils in an Northern Athletic Conference game Friday night.
Cayden Stowell picked up 29 yards on an outside run on the first play of the game and, two plays later, he had another 35-yard outburst to give the Wildcats (4-0) a 6-0 lead just 71 seconds into the game.
When OFA (3-1) got the ball, the Wildcats stuffed the first running play for a 1-yard gain, setting a defensive tone as well.
Stowell, who finished with 119 yards on just nine carries, scored another touchdown on Gouverneur’s next series, this one a 17-yard run, to put the Wildcats up 12-0.
“It really stepped up the whole team, I could tell,” Stowell said of his first carry. “It’s electrifying for the team and keeps the pace up for the rest of the game. We practice that all the time, and I love to work hard and I love playing football.”
OFA had a better time on its second offensive possession, cutting the lead to 12-8 on a 3-yard run from John Powers followed by a pass from Jackson Jones to MeSean Johnson for the two-point conversion.
But just two plays after OFA scored the Wildcats broke another big play, this time a 51-yard run from Mitchell Tyler to go ahead, 18-8.
“We were able to get the edge on them early in the game,” Wildcats coach Sean Devlin said. “It’s blocking and schemes, guys went out front and put the time in and did a very good job blocking. I don’t care who you are if someone blocks for you, you are going to have success. We played pretty well and we are happy with our defensive effort.”
OFA got back into the game with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first half when Jones connected with Johnson on a 54-yard touchdown pass to make it 18-14. The Blue Devils were set to get the ball to start the second half so they had a chance to take a lead in the third quarter if they could make a defensive stop.
But Gouverneur never gave the Blue Devils a chance as Stowell scored his third touchdown of the night returning the kickoff 87 yards, followed by two-point run from quarterback Caleb Farr to make it 26-14.
“Right when I got to where the mass of people were, I saw an opening and I just went 100 percent with it,” Stowell said.
Three plays after the kick return, the Wildcats produced another big play as Kyle Savage intercepted a pass and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown, then ran in the two-point conversion to give Gouverneur a stunning 34-14 halftime lead.
“I saw the quarterback’s eyes look over and I kind of just jumped the pass and it hit me in the hands,” Savage said. “I feel like it was a big momentum switch, it put them down really big. This was a big game for us. It set the tone for the rest of the season.”
OFA and Gouverneur are both Class C schools and could meet again for the Section 10 championship. Last year, the Wildcats won the regular-season meeting but fell to OFA in the title game.
“We look like a mid-term exam in school,” OFA coach Matt Tessmer said. “You take a mid-term and find out where you are and at the end of the day the final grade has nothing to do with it. We found out that we’re not on the level of Gouverneur. They have a great team. (Their coaches) do a great job. If we want to give ourselves a chance to have a better grade at the end, then we have a lot of work to do. Right now, we are not there. They played great. I have to do a better job, and our kids have to come together and get back at it on Monday and see where we are at. Hopefully it gives them some impetus to work harder on Monday.”
The second half was more defensive as neither team produced any scoring until Gouverneur’s Joseph Cummings scored from three yards out with 2:11 left.
OFA was missing running back Tristan Lovely to an injury, and the Blue Devils offense had trouble most of the night. Jacob Shippee led Gouverneur’s defense with nine tackles.