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Massena gridmen generate repeat win over Canton in playoff semis

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MASSENA - A post-season rematch against Canton Central wound up being a repeat performance for the Massena Central varsity football team Friday night at Mike Nicholas Field.

“We’ve been able to come out and try out some new stuff on offense the last couple of weeks and we’re pleased with the way it’s worked out for us,” said coach Anthony Diagostino after the Raiders carried the momentum of a 21-0 first-quarter lead through to the end in posting a 41-7 decision over the Bears in the first round of the NAC Tier II Playoffs.

Senior Justin Bestor, who has played at tight end and split end this season but missed a handful of games due to an injury, stepped up to lead the way offensively for the Raiders in his second straight start at quarterback. He set the tone for the convincing win when he raced in from 43 yards out on the second Massena play from scrimmage then helped push the lead to 14-0 just three plays into the second Raider possession with a 26-yard touchdown burst with 3:48 left in the first quarter.

Bestor went on to add a third-quarter touchdown run and finished with 180 yards on just 10 carries while completing four of eight passes for 84 yards as the Raiders worked their way to a 28-7 halftime lead and never looked back for the win.

“Since Justin’s been healthy, he’s made a big difference for us on offense. He’s agile, he sees the field well and he runs hard when he has the chance,” noted Diagostino. “We thought we’d give him a try at quarterback in the first Canton game and he ran the ball really well. He just picked up where he left off tonight.”

J.P. Reagan also made lead contributions offensively against Canton, going for 43 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Isaiah Perry finished with 22 yards and one touchdown on three runs.

Connor Paquin accounted for the final Massena touchdown late in the fourth quarter when he fell on a fumble in the endzone after teammate Josh Belile has carried the ball four yards before being stripped of the ball at the goalline.

The Bears, who closed out their season at 0-8, scored their only touchdown in the second quarter. They started on their own 31 and used an effective mix of screen passes and inside runs by Hunter Yerdon to go 69 yards on eight plays. Jay Proulx capped the drive with a one-yard dive. He then added the extra-point kick to make it 21-7 with 8:39 left in the first half.

The Raiders countered by going 60 yards on just five plays with Reagan going in from five yards out for his first touchdown of the night with 6:02 remaining.

The Raiders will now get set to host Tupper Lake next Friday night in the Tier II championship game. The Lumberjacks advanced via a 21-6 at home over St. Lawrence Central in the other Friday night semi-final.

Tupper Lake 21, SLC 6: In Tupper Lake, the Larries got on the board first when Todd Ramsdell caught and 11-yard touchdown pass from Devon Euto but the Lumberjacks scored unanswered solo touchdowns in the second, third and fourth quarters to advance to the title game.

Jeremy Roussel ran in from two yards out for the first Tupper Lake touchdown and Ian Gillis kicked the first of his three extra-points to make it 7-6. Mitch Keniston scored on a nine-yard touchdown run in the third quarter then sealed the win with a 22-yard interception return for the final touchdown of the game in the fourth.

Senior Jesse Greer was held to just 17 yards on 11 carries as the leading rusher of the night for the Larries, who were limited to just 29 yards of total rushing offense. Euto completed nine of 20 passes for 82 yards in the final game of his SLC football career. David Plante caught five plasses for 53 yards while Ramsdell finished with 20 yards on two receptions as the Larries finished the season at 1-8.

Roussel anchored the Tupper Lake (3-5) offense going for 82 yards on 20 runs. Keniston ran the ball 16 times for 60 yards and completed four of seven passes for 48 yards.

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