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OFA-Massena meet at 3-0

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Massena Week needs no further explanation, beyond those two words, on the OFA Football calendar.

The historic Route 37 rivalry will be renewed at full force on Friday night as the two teams lineup at OFA’s Alton W. Elliott Athletic Facility with matching 3-0 records and holding a share of a three-way tie for the Northern Conference lead with Potsdam.

The teams reached 3-0 through different methods.

Massena has controlled its first three opponents in high-scoring wins culminating with a 40-26 win over St. Lawrence Central. OFA, meanwhile, has excelled at crunch time to defeat Malone 13-6 and hold off Tupper Lake 27-26 in the past two weeks.

Enjoying their program’s best start in several years, the Raiders will be looking for their first win over OFA since 2005.

To do so, Raider coach Anthony Diagostino says his team must eliminate the mistakes which allowed an opportunistic and unrelenting SLC team to score three fourth quarter touchdowns.

“If we want to have the special kind kind of a season that we’re all hoping for, we can’t afford to make the kind of mistakes we made,” said Diagostino.

OFA will be looking for a repeat of Friday’s gutsy win over Tupper Lake where the Blue Devils overcame major injuries. Quarterback-safety Josh Liebstein’s evening ended just before the half and team rushing leader Jordan McCormick was limited in the second half. In the first half, Liebstein rushed for 68 yards and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Jon Tayler, who had nine catches for 115 yards in the game, and McCormick (7-67) scored on a 36-yard run.

The Devils finally prevailed on a fourth down touchdown pass from quarterback Joey Dalton to Jon Rogers, a clutch interior defensive stand to stop a go-ahead two-point conversion try by Tupper Lake and a ball-control drive, centered around Rogers’ running behind a strong offensive line surge, to consume the final 3:47 of the game. Rogers rushed for 45 yards in the second half and caught two passes for 47 yards.

Coach Matt Tessmer attributed the win to a total team effort and recognized that effort by bestowing the normal Players of the Week Awards to the entire team.

“We are honoring the team because of the way it overcame adversity. We had key injuries in the game and we had illness throughout the week,” said Tessmer.

“We got hurt by two rocket screens, but defensively we did a good job with our deep pass coverage against Mitch Keniston and Jon Tayler had just an outstanding game.”

Liebstein is doubtful to play in Friday’s game so Dalton will be looking to follow up a productive second half where he completed eight of 16 passes for 158 yards. Along with pitching the late touchdown pass to Rogers, which was followed by Tayler’s third PAT of the night, Dalton also directed three other drives inside the TL 20.

Moving the ball will be paramount for the Devils in matching up with a high-scoring Massena spread offense which features the NAC’s leading rusher and scorer in JP Reagan (47-597 9 TDs) who ran for 309 yards against Tupper Lake and 206 yards against SLC.

“Massena is an outstanding team. They operate out of the spread like we do and they have an outstanding back in number 7 (JP Reagan) who is strong and very fast,” said Coach Tessmer.

“Their quarterback (Rory Corcoran) throws the ball well and they have a good deep threat (Josh Manley).”

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