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Big plays boost Potsdam past Massena to NAC football title


POTSDAM - In the biggest game of the Northern Athletic Conference football season to date, Potsdam was all about making big plays in a 36-12 victory over Massena on Friday night at Sandstoner Stadium.

The Sandstoners (7-0) completed their second straight unbeaten regular season, fighting off the Raiders’ bid for a share of the NAC crown.

Potsdam snagged three interceptions, one by O’den Roberston who also picked up a Massena fumble and rumbled 45 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Late in the third quarter, quarterback Will Coleman put the game out of reach with a tight-rope effort down the right sideline for a six-pointer on a 4th and goal from the Massena 24.

“I couldn’t believe it. I saw Chase Palmer pull the ball out and I just jumped on it and took it in for six,” said Roberston who gave his team a 14-0 lead on his fumble-recovery return to the endzone. “It’s pretty nice to be part of two undefeated seasons. We got it done tonight,” added Robertson who also scored from scrimmage on runs of five and 16 yards and finished with a game-high 118 yards rushing on 21 carries.

Meanwhile, Coleman also picked off a Massena pass and scored on rushing plays of one and 24 yards, the latter giving Potsdam a 28-6 lead and proving to be the backbreaker for Massena.

“I was pretty close to stepping out on that play, but just stayed in,” said Coleman. “You have to credit everyone on this team. It’s just great to be part of two unbeaten teams. We’ve put in a lot of work, but it’s been definitely worth it.”

The Potsdam defense held NAC rushing leader J.P Reagan to 71 yards on 19 carries. But Reagan scored both Raider touchdowns, on a two-yard rush in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 14-6 and then late in the game on an eight-yard pass from quarterback Rory Corocoran. The Massena signal-caller completed 8-of-13 passes for 127 yards and rushed for another 49 yards on the night, but was stymied by the three picks.

“Our defense played well, but giving up the 4th-and-goal from outside the 20 was huge for them. It was a big momentum turn. And the fumble return on the kickoff hurt,” said Reagan who is tied with Roberston for the league lead in touchdowns with 18 apiece. “But I thought it was a pretty hard-fought game.”

Massena (5-2) dropped to a third place finish in the NAC as OFA (6-1) defeated Gouverneur last night to finish second.

Potsdam coach Jim Kirka was elated with the victory and the unbeaten regular season.

“I know’s it’s cliche, but tonight we would bend, but we didn’t break. The fumble recovery and touchdown by O’den were huge, the defense had the three turnovers and we didn’t make many mistakes. The three picks showed that the discipline back there is getting better,” said Kirka.

“Going two years without a loss in this league is great. It’s a real testament to the kids. I’m excited to be a part of it,” he added.

Potsdam moves on next Friday night to host either Canton or St. Lawrence Central in the Class C sectionals. Massena, the lone Class A team in Section 10, will be at Class B Malone next Saturday in a tune-up before entering the state tournament.

The other NAC regular season finale played on Friday saw OFA down Gouverneur 40-22.

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