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OFA holds off wild slc rally

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BRASHER FALLS - With 5:17 remaining in the third quarter, OFA quarterback Josh Liebstein pitched a 34-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Nick Sweeney and then flipped a two-point conversion to Jordan McCormick standing all alone in the endzone.

After making two red zone stops in the second quarter the Devils had efficiently cruised to four straight touchdowns and a 38-6 lead in Saturday’s 52-40 NAC Football staged on a magnificent fall afternoon at St. Lawrence Central.

As the OFA coaching staff began to plan for the rest of the game, the last thing they expected happened.

With 2:40 remaining, the Blue Devils needed to convert a fourth and three situation to protect a 44-40 lead and deny SLC the opportunity to complete an almost unimaginable comeback.

A comeback which was ignited by bookend 85-yard kickoff returns to the endzone by Dave and Mike Plante in a roller-coaster third quarter where the two teams combined for 46 points and three kickoff return TDs.

The Devils converted and secured the victory as quarterback Josh Liebstein capped a multi-dimensional big play afternoon. He took keeper to the outside and rambled 35 yards down the right sideline for his third touchdown of the game and then darted into the endzone for his second two-point conversion.

Liebsten, who rushed for 104 yards on 13 carries, also uncoiled 56-yard punt to the SLC one yardline which eventually led the first of six TDs of the third quarter which he scored on a one-yard run.

“We are struggling with things that we definitely shouldn’t be struggling with on week six,” said OFA Coach Matt Tessmer.

“We definitely have to clean this things up. But we won the game and a win is a win.”

Especially when it is a win which keeps 5-1 OFA in the NAC title picture heading into Friday’s climatic NAC Friday finale. The Devils will host Gouverneur on Senior Night while 6-0 Potsdam hosts 5-1 Massena.

SLC (1-5) returned to contention in Saturday’s game through three big returns in third quarter. Along with the two kickoff returns by the Plante brothers, Dave Plante used a 28-yard return with a interception to set up a five-yard run by Mike Plante.

OFA’s Taylor Richardson delivered the third kickoff return touchdown of the quarter when he broke out of a crowd of players and rambled 70-yards to the endzone.

Trailing 44-26 the Larries went to their goundgame to close the deficit to 44-40. Mike Plante (12-102 yards) raced 55 yards to endzone and then ran for a two-point conversion following a two-yard run by Brandon LaBarge with 7:13 to play.

“This was just a great comeback. The guys never quit and they certainly played four quarters of the football today,” said SLC Coach Bill Scharf.

“Our backs were pretty banged up se we looked to pass more to take the load off them.”

The first two quarters were dominated by a punishing OFA rushing attack focused around fullback Jordan McCormick (13-95) who rushed for 86 yards and opened the scoring with a two-yard run and two-point conversion. The Larries answered with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Mike Burns to Dave Plante. OFA took a 22-6 halftime lead as Jon Rogers (9-40) scored on a four-yard fourth down run and Liebstein broke loose for a 21 yard run and added the two-point conversion.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL - OFA sophomore lineman Nathan Rishe suffered a knee injury and transported to the hospital...Nick Sweeney had an interception and recovered an onsides kick for OFA and Jacob King forced a fumble with a sack and Joe Loffler recovered it...Nolan Rufa ended SLC’s final possession with a sack...SLC’s Dave Plante was the leading the receiver in the contest with three catches for 66 yardshad the best run of the day when be broke two tackles behind the line and then carried a pile of players to complete an 18-yard gain.

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