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Raiders show football potential in NAC debut win at Tupper Lake

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TUPPER LAKE - The Massena Central varsity football team got off to the promising start that coach Anthony Diagostino was hoping for on Friday night.

“This was just a real nice way for us to start the season,” said Diagostino after the Raiders relayed a 20-13 halftime lead into a convincing 40-20 win on the road over the Tupper Lake in the opening game of the 2012 NAC season for both squads.

“We did a lot of good things and the kids did a great job of making some game-time adjustments. We made some mistakes and we’ll go to work on trying to correct them but overall, we couldn’t be happier with the way the kids played tonight.”

The trio of Jordy Mitchell, Isaiah Perry and Connor Paquin produced most of the offense in the win for the Raiders but coach Diagostino was also quick to credit the the combined effort on the frontline.

“Our line made great blocks all night and our runningbacks all ran the ball well behind the blocking. I thought we owned the line of scrimmage for most of the game,” he noted.

Mitchell sparked the Raider running game, generating 163 yards on just eight carries including a pair of 49-yard touchdown scampers in the second quarter. Perry darted and pinballed his way to 124 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries while Paquin finished with 116 yards on 11 rushes as eight different players ran for positive yardage in the win. JP Reagan had seven carries for 47 yards including the final Massena touchdown of the night.

Tyler Minogue highlighted the Tupper Lake offense, going for 62 yards and a touchdown on 12 rushes while returning the second Massena kick-off of the game 72 yards for another six points. Morgan Stevens connected for a seven-yard touchdown pass to Brock Tarbox to account for the other Lumberjacks’ touchdown.

Both teams moved the ball deep into the opposing zone on their first possessions before falling short. The Raiders started their second on their own 31 and opened the scoring 10 players later when Perry ran the ball in from six yards out with 11:20 left in the second quarter.

Massena doubled its lead just three minutes later when Mitchell raced in from 49 yards out but Minogue quickly countered by scooping up the ensuing kick-off then breaking away to the end zone down the right sideline with 8:08 left in the half.

The Raiders twice overcame long yardage situations on their next possession in putting together a seven-play scoring drive that ended with Mitchell scoring from 49 yards out on a third-down and 18 play. Paquin burst through the line for the two-point conversion that pushed the Raider lead to 20-7.

Tupper Lake once again responded with a scoring drive that saw Minogue find his way into the endzone form 13 yard out with 1:26 left in the half.

The Raiders then put the game out of reach in the third quarter with back-to-back scoring drives four minutes apart. Perry went in from three yards out at the 3:04 mark then from six yards out with 4:48 remaining.

Tupper Lake scored its final points of the game on the Stevens’ completion to Tarbox with 1:13 left in the third quarter.

“We had our backs to the wall a couple of times but we knew the task at hand and we just took care of business and put together a lot of nice drives tonight,” said Diagostino. “We had some issues come up on defense and on special teams but we made some halftime adjustments and the kids know what we need to work on.”

The Raiders return to action next Friday night when they make their home debut against OFA.

Massena JV’s 28, Tupper Lake JV’s 0: In the junior varsity prelude, the junior Raiders also good balance on offense as four different players found their way into the endzone for touchdowns. Isaiah Dillabough had a 60-yard touchdown burst. Zach Ploude went in from 45 yards out. Patrick Manning had a 10-yard run to paydird and also ran the ball in for a two-point conversion while Jeff Foster caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Maddox Merry, who later went in for the two-point conversion that closed out the scoring.

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