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Potsdam outlasts OFA to complete undefeated NAC football season

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POTSDAM - Ogdensburg Free Academy adapted Potsdam’s script for the first six games of the season to put the Sandstoners’ hopes for a perfect 7-0 season in severe jeopardy on Friday night in the Northern Athletic Conference regular season finale.

Sparked by the passing (15x25-1-209 3 TDs) and running (12-60) of quarterback Nate Angel, a tackle-breaking 100-yard receiving night by Josh Liebstein and a defense which checked Potsdam’s vaunted groundgame, the Blue Devils rallied from a 24-12 deficit in the second quarter to take a 28-24 lead with 1:09 remaining in the third quarter.

The Stoners answered by fashioning their first from-behind victory of the season to secure a 30-28 win which was not assured until safety David Adams intercepted a pass in the back corner of the endzone as time expired.

“OFA’s quarterback had a great game, he was really hot throwing the ball and their defense was the best we have faced all season. They really swarmed to the ball and they forced us to go to the pass,” said Potsdam Coach Jim Kirka after his team achieved a rare perfect regular season. “We had some drops but we came up with the big passes for touchdowns. We knew it was going to be a real battle and I was so proud of the way our kids came back. Next week is going to be just as tough”.

It marked the fifth straight meeting between he two teams to be decided on the final possession and created an outstanding atmosphere for Friday’s NAC semi-playoff game back on the Stoners’ turf field. The Stoners erased their only second-half deficit of the season with 4:11 to play when quarterback Will Coleman found Garrett Kilgore for a nine-yard touchdown pass.

“Garrett Kilgore is an excellent receiver and I feel very comfortable anytime I have to pass,” said Coleman who completed three passes for the night and all three went for touchdowns.

“It was a great win for us. We moved Kyle Weems to outside linebacker in the second half and he did a great job shooting the gaps.”

Coleman found Kilgore on a perfect fourth down throw from 10 yards out early in the second quarter and hit Shawn Clark in stride running free down the middle of the field for a 40-yard connection 1:02 before the half. He also pitched a two-point conversion pass to Jacob Bryant after O’den Robertson (8-83), who stopped for no gain on five of his eight runs, bounced off a would-be tackler in the first quarter and raced 70 yards to the endzone. The Devils engineered a final drive which was slowed when linebacker Kyle Weems and Aaron Chandler combined on the only sack of the evening. The Devils regrouped and reached the Potsdam 28 before the interception on the final play by Adams who also ran for a two-point conversion in the contest.

The Devils (4-3) set the tone for the evening in the first quarter when they stopped Potsdam on their own 19 and then took a 6-0 lead on a one-yard run by Jordan McCormick (22-64) after tackle Dave Troiano recovered a fumble on the Stoners’ 20.

The Devils also staged two comeback efforts in the second quarter.

With Potsdam leading 16-6, Angel found John Tayler in the front corner of the endzone on a 10-yard fourth down pass. After Clark’s 40-yard score gave the Stoners a 24-12 lead OFA answered with a flurry on a 30-yard catch and run play by Liebstein. Alex Farrell (3-52) followed with spectacular 37-yard leaping catch and open field run to the endzone and Angel cut the difference to 24-20 with the first of his two conversion runs. The only score of the third quarter came with Angel finding Tayler (3-40) from 18 yards out for his second TD catch of the night after a 12-yard fourth down pass to Liebstein.

“Our guys played a great game tonight. We lost a key player on Wednesday in Zach Sharpe and we needed people to step up and they did,” said OFA Coach Matt Tessmer. “I have to credit Potsdam for doing what they did and this was a big effort for us. It was just an outstanding football game and it should be just as intense next Friday.”

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