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OFA begins key homestand

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On the opening week of the Northern Conference Football season OFA showed a wide-ranging skill package besting Canton.

On Saturday many of the first year starters earned their spurs as the Blue Devils relied on another dimension of their collective anatomy showing exceptional heart and intestinal fortitude to gut out a 13-6 victory at Malone.

“Saturday’s game was very tough and very physical and we were very proud of the way the guys pulled out the win,” said OFA Coach Matt Tessmer.

“Defensively we played very well allowing Malone just over 100 yards on offense. The guys just kept working at it and doing the right things.”

Malone’s only touchdown of the day came on a 93-yard return by Abe Gravel with the opening kickoff.

Despite the strong rushing of Jordan McCormick, who would eventually gain 137 yards on 15 carries, a stern Malone defense held the Devils off the board until 5:41 remained in third quarter when quarterback Josh Liebstein found Nick Sweeney with a five-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 6-6.

The connection clicked again with just 2:30 remaining in the game when Liebstein found Sweeney with a 31-yard TD pass.

Sweeney caught four passes for 67 yards and has eight receptions for 82 yards and three touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season.

For his efforts the junior receiver was honored by the OFA coaching staff as the Offensive Player of the Week. The defensive citation went to active junior linebacker Nolan Rufa for a second straight week. Rufa also received the rotating weekly captain award from the coaching staff.

The Hard Worker of the Week Award went to senior Jon Tayler for his contributions at wide receiver, safety and place kicker where he added a vital PAT on the second touchdown.

OFA will look to secure its third straight win at home on Friday night (7 p.m. kickoff) against Tupper Lake. TL, which downed St. Lawrence Central on the opening week, stands at 1-1 after a 47-20 loss to 2-0 Massena on Saturday.

The game will open a three-game homestand which also includes games against highly regarded Massena and Potsdam teams who have both started the season 2-0. Massena travels to St. Lawrence Central (0-2) on Saturday while Potsdam hosts Canton (0-2)

But Coach Tessmer says the Lumberjack matchup is anything but a calm before the storm.

“Tupper Lake has outstanding skill people who are very strong athletes. Their quarterback Morgan Stevens throws the ball very well, Mitch Keniston is a dangerous receiver and Jeremey Roussel is a tough runner,” said Tessmer who feels strong line play will be a key for his team to continue its strong defense and balanced offensive production.

Stevens is the most prolific passer in the NAC completing 22 of 41 passes for 298 yards with Keniston producing NAC highs of 10 passes for 183 yards. Roussel stands third with 327 yards on 35 carries.

OFA’s offensive balance is led by quarterback Josh Liebstein (16x24-1-177 3 TDs) who stands second in the NAC in completions, Nick Sweeney (8-82) who is the second leading receiver and Jordan McCormick (21-208) who stands fourth in rushing.

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