Second Half Surge Carries OFA Away From Cyclones
BY DAVE SHEA
For the second time in two games, on Friday night, the OFA defense came up with a big stop on the goal line late in the first half and the Blue Devils controlled the second half offensively and defensively to gain a 38-8 victory over Watertown High School.
The Blue Devils climbed to 5-1 for next Friday's Northern Conference finale against Potsdam, also 5-1, in match of two teams who have lost only to undefeated Gouverneur which shut out Massena 54-0 on Friday..
For OFA it didn't come as easy as the final score would indicate against WHS.
Snake-bitten by a lost fumble into the endzone and another at the Watertown 18 yardline in the second quarter, the Devils were unable to expand a 16-8 lead despite a dominant offensive line surge.
A surge which aided a pair of Jackson Jones touchdown passes in the first quarter. Stephen Morley took a swing pass six yards to score after breaking a tackle and MeSean Johnson took a slant pass and sprinted 49 yards to the endzone untouched. Jones added a two-point conversion pass to Harry Powers and Morley ran another conversion.
After the first OFA fumble the Cyclones marched 80 yards culminating with a nine-yard touchdown run and conversion run by sophomore quarterback Deante Hall. After the second fumble WHS threatened for a second touchdown but was denied as Johnson broke up two passes in the endzone and Harry Powers intercepted a pass on the one-yard line with 2.5 seconds remaining in the half.
Hall used his elusive combination of outside speed and ability to finish runs inside to gain 63 yards in the first half and halfback Jadian Ramsey picked up 61 tough yards.
In the second half the Devils' defense allowed just 59 yards rushing, delivered two fourth down stops and ended WHS' only serious scoring threat with an interception by linebacker Tristan Lovely at the OFA 18 yardline.
"All the credit goes to Coach Mac (Defensive Coordinator Charlie McCormick) in the second half. The coaches made some adjustments and we came out and played with a lot more pride. We really brought it," said linebacker Owen Warchol who was in on 13 tackles with two behind the line of scrimmage.
Lovely, a sophomore who missed the last two games with a broken thumb, scored on a six-yard run in the last play of third quarter and a 41-yard bolt down the sidelines early in the fourth quarter. Showing the total package of strength, the ability to make tacklers miss and the ability to run away from defenders also had a 40-yard run in the first half.
"My thumb feels better than ever," quipped Lovely with a smile.
"It is just great to be back playing and I am excited about playing Potsdam next week. They have a very good team."
Lovely (8-117) was one of three Devil running backs to gain over 100 yards combining with Stephen Morley (11-105) and MeSean Johnson (16-116) who also caughtr four passes for 84 yards..
"Our offensive line (Mark Barr, Derek Barr, Austin Jones, Luc LaFlair, Carson Barney) really did a great job opening holes," said Morley who broke three tackles on a 20 yard scoring jaunt in the fourth quarter. Second half conversions came on a Harry Powers' run and a pass from Jones to MeSean Johnson.
"We kind of kicked ourselves in the butt a few times in the first half but we came back and played a very good second half. A second half we can build on but we need a great week of practice to get ready for Potsdam," said OFA Coach Matt Tessmer.
"In the second half we stopped them and we scored on every possession except for one. Gage Austin caught a runner from behind just he was breaking away and could have gone all the way. That was the defensive play of the game."
In other action Friday Gouverneur downed Massena 54-0 to clinch a fourth straight NAC title and move within one game of a fourth straight perfect conference season, Potsdam bested Canton 36-14 and Malone forfeited to St. Lawrence Central.
Malone forfeited because injuries left the Huskies with a lack of healthy players. Malone's status for the rest of the season has not been decided.
OFA 38 - WATERTOWN HIGH 8
First Quarter: Morley on 6 yard pass from Jones (Powers on pass from Jones), Johnson(O) on 49 yard pass from Jones (Morley run).
Second Quarter: Hall (W) on nine yard run (Hall run).
Third Quarter: Lovely (O) on 6 yard run (Powers run).
Fourth Quarter: Lovely (O) on 41 yard run (Johnson on pass from Jones), Morley (O) on 20 yard run. (Kick Failed).
Rushing: OFA - Morley 11-105, Johnson 16-116, Lovely 8-117, Powers 3-12. WHS - Ramsey 13-71, Hall 18-93, Converse 8-27, Gardner 1-7.
Passing: Jones (O) 6-11-112 2 TDs, Hall 1x3-1 -10, Conway 3x8-1-21.
Receiving - O- Johnson 4-84 1 TD, Morley 1-6 1 TD, Powers 1-14. WHS - Harp 1-1, Carter 1-12, Converse 1-8, Millan 1-10.
Interceptions: Lovely (O), Powers (O)
Records: OFA 5-1, Watertown 3-3.