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Potsdam downs Malone in showdown

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POTSDAM – A pair of Northern Athletic Conference perennial football powers took to the gridiron on Saturday morning in Potsdam with 2-0 records. Potsdam used its physical offensive line to amass 298 rushing yards on its way to a 35-27 victory and the lead in the NAC standings.

“This was a real good battle between two very good teams,” said Potsdam Head Coach Jim Kirka. “This was going to come down to which team made the fewest mistakes.“Our linemen worked very hard in the off-season in the weight room. They are bigger, stronger and faster than we were last year. They did a good job opening up holes on the offensive side of the ball and I was very pleased the way our defense contained a very volatile quarterback.”

Workhorse O’den Robertson, who carried the ball 25 times, gained 165 yards rushing and scored three of the five ’Stoners touchdowns.

Starting quarterback Will Coleman got the hosts on the board first with a two-yard sneak up the middle and an early 6-0 lead after pouncing on a fumbled pitch on the Huskies’ 12-yard line to set up the short-field situation. Coleman suffered a left arm injury during the latter stages of the second quarter and was kept out of the second half for precautionary reasons, according to Kirka.

The quick-strike offense of the Huskies countered Potsdam’s opening score with one of their own, driving from their own 22-yard line in four plays to take their only lead of the contest, 7-6 when Mitch Gallagher went the final 42 yards on an option keeper up the right side of the field. Harvey Smith tacked on the extra point to give Malone a short-lived lead.

Running behind the big offensive front, Robertson carried the ball five times in the seven-play drive and capped it off by going in from the 10. Robertson ran in the two-point conversion with 2:41 remaining in the opening quarter for a 14-7 Potsdam lead.

Malone took the ensuing kickoff and marched up the field and found the endzone on the second play of the the second quarter when Gallagher bulled his way in from the one on a quarterback sneak. Malone’s drive was highlighted by a 46-yard pass reception by Jordan Yando in the left flat.

Potsdam began its first of two second-quarter scoring drives from its own 35. Robertson bolted 40 yards on the first play of the drive and capped it off by going in from the five.

A fourth and goal situation saw Potsdam scored with a touch of trickery. Veering away from their power game, the Sandstoners dialed up a halfback pass with David Adams finding Jacob Bryant in the back of the endzone for the score. Robertson’s two-point conversion carry increased the Potsdam lead to 28-14 at the half.

After a muffed punt gave Potsdam the ball on the Malone 13-yard line Robertson found paydirt for the final time with a three-yard plunge and Devine added the extra point to increase the Sandstoners’ advantage to 35-14.

The Huskies made the game a bit more intense in the fourth quarter, as Kelsey Head jumped on a loose ball and Gallagher broke free up the left side for a 29-yard score on an option keeper. Malone got another chance to get back into the endzone as Jake Perry recovered a fumbled handoff in the Potsdam backfield, setting up the Huskies on the ’Stoners’ 49-yard line.

The Huskies were stareing at a fourth down and eight when Gallagher was told to leave the field with blood on his arm. Backup quarterback John Picaro stepped and found Yando all alone in the flat for a big 25-yard gain after a wild scramble. Four plays Gallagher found Smith in the end zone capping the 49-yard drive and Smith’s PAT cut the Potsdam lead to 35-27.

The Stoners methodically moved the ball up the field on the ground with the clock ticking away, ending Malone’s chances at an unbeaten season.

“There was no quit out there. Our boys played hard right to the end,” said Malone Coach Greg Marshall. “Potsdam’s offensive line took it to us. They kept pounding the ball on the ground behind that big line.

Rian McFadden, the Potsdam fullback, gained 43 yards on seven carries and Adams finished with 45 yards on 11 carries. Adam Lewis added 34 yards on eight rushing attempts.

Malone’s Gallagher finished with 125 yards rushing on 20 carries and three TDs while passing for 142 yards on one TD. Yando caught two passes for 71 yards, Smith caught four passes for 46 yards. and Picaro grabbed three passes for 50 yards.

Both Malone and Potdsdam are scheduled to play on Friday night. Potsdam travels to rival Massena while the Huskies are in Ogdensburg for a game under the lights against the Blue Devils.

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