MALONE - The Franklin Academy Huskies of Malone turned what looked like a rout into a close and exciting ballgame with a second-half rally in the lone Northern Athletic Conference football action on Saturday.
Massena built a 19-0 lead with its third touchdown of the nonleague game coming in the third quarter, then withstood the Malone rally as time ran out to secure a 25-18 victory.
The Red Raiders scored once in each of the first three quarters, building leads of 7-0, 13-0 and 19-0, when the Huskies scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to pull to within six points, 18-12, heading in the final 12 minutes of play.
Malone scored its final TD of the game on a 44-yard pass completion from QB Camron Gallagher to senior receiver Jordan Yando to cut the Massena lead to one point, 19-18.
Needing to get the ball back for another shot at the lead, Malone stuffed a Massena drive and forced the Red Raiders to punt. The kick was a dandy and rolled free all the way down to the four yard line, where the Huskies began with their attempt at the game-tying drive.
It didnt begin well, as the Huskies were flagged for a false start, which moved the ball back to the two. Two plays later, the Red Raiders picked off a Gallagher pass attempt at their own 46.
Two plays into the ensuing drive, Massenas JP Reagan took off up the middle and ripped through the Huskies defense for a 50-yard score to give the Red Raiders a bit of breathing room with a seven-point lead, 25-18.
The Huskies had just two minutes to cover the 67 yards that stood between them and victory. In the way was the Massena defense.
Gallagher dropped back to pass on the first play and was sacked for a nine-yard loss. But the sophomore QB responded and found Jordan Yando over the middle for an eight-yard pickup. On the next play, Massena seemed to have contained Malones speedy sophomore Zach Raymond, but the slippery runner/receiver, pulled his way out of a pair of would-be tacklers for a 32 yard gain and a first-and-10 on the Massena 36.
Gallagher found Raymond on a 15-yard hook-up to put the ball at the Raiders 21 with just 39 seconds left. A Massena sack of Gallagher dropped the Huskies back to the 30, but Gallagher rose up again and completed consecutive passes to Yando for a total of 24 yards – leaving Malone just six-yards shy of the goal line with seven ticks left on the clock.
The Huskies QB avoided a sack and dumped the ball off leaving creating a second and goal from the six – but with just two seconds remaining, time for one final play.
Gallagher dropped back and bought some time in the pocket, then found Yando cutting across the middle of the field right at the goal line.
As Yando caught the ball, he was brought down immediately, which resulted in the officials gathering in the middle of the field to discuss as to whether Yando broke the plane of the end zone or not.
All the while, the Malone fans were screaming touchdown, while the Red Raider faithful were stating their position – that it was not a TD. The head referee came over the top of the ball, waived that it was no touchdown and that time had expired – ending the game with the Massena squad cheering with joy and the Huskies dropping to the ground in frustration and disappointment.
It all depends which side you were on, stated Massena coach Anthony Diagostino after the emotional victory. If you were wearing green, the refs made the wrong call, if you were wearing red, they made the right call. It was tough for me to actually see just where the ball was at that time, but I felt that it was the right call.
Malone coach Greg Marshall said it was close and the call could have gone either way. Unfortunately for us, it went the wrong way. We (Malone coaches) all thought that Jordan was in and he (Yando) thought so as well.
Regardless of the final play and call, it was a hard-fought game, attested by Diagostino.
This was much tougher than our first meeting, said the Massena coach. Malone has some great football players on their team. The bent, but didnt break in the end.
Malone deserves a lot of credit, they pretty much shut us down in the second half and they could have won the game if not for JPs touchdown run in the fourth quarter, added Diagostino. It was a great football game.
Reagan carried most of the load for the Red Raiders (6-2), carrying the ball 26 times for 214 yards and all four Massena touchdowns. Reagan scored on runs of two, three, 56 and 50, while Corcoran collected just 11 yards on 16 attempts while getting sacked four times by the Malone defense. Josh Manley grabbed two yards on his only rushing attempt.
For the Huskies (4-4), Raymond was the workhorse for the team on the ground, taking the ball 18 times and also went over the 200-yard mark with 202 yards and the lone rushing TD for FA.
Franklin Academys other two scores came through the air, as Gallagher hooked up with Yando for the two other Malone touchdowns. Gallagher, a sophomore QB, completed 11 of 19 attempts for 150 yards with the pair of TDs, while Massena picked him off twice, once each by Reagan and Isaiah Dillabough. Yando catch seven passes for 105 yards and two scores.
All three of the Malone coaches, Marshall, Cory West and Brian Doe, acknowledged that they were proud of the team for their efforts on the field and to the seniors who gave it their all, in their final regular season game at Crowner Field.
It was hell of a game, added Marshall. We made a big push in the second half. The kids didnt quit, didnt give up and did their best to earn a win. Their effort today (Saturday) made me proud.
Malone will host the Gouverneur Wildcats for the Class B championship at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, while Massena, the Section 10 Class A champ, will travel to Tupper Lake for a nonleague contest at 7 p.m. on Friday.
We have a big battle next week (Tupper (Lake), then have a week off before we go down and play the Section 2 winner, stated Diagostino. Tupper Lake is a tough team and it wont get any easier.
As for the Malone-Gouverneur matchup, Marshall added I hope the emotion that we had in the second half carries over to next week. Its either win or go home.
NAC Football Standings
Team W L T .Pct PF PA
Potsdam 8 0 0 1.000 376 101
OFA 7 1 0 .875 265 164
Massena 6 2 0 .750 235 152
Malone 4 4 0 .500 144 171
Tupper Lake 4 4 0 .500 218 222
Gouverneur 1 7 0 .125 102 269
Canton 1 7 0 .125 125 293
St. Lawrence 1 7 0 .125 196 289
Massena 21, Malone 0; OFA 46, Canton 6; Tupper Lake 30, St. Lawrence 28; Potsdam 54, Gouverneur 6.
OFA 13, Malone 6; Gouverneur 12, Canton 6 (OT); Potsdam 54, St. Lawrence 12; Massena 47, Tupper Lake 20.
Malone 28, Gouverneur 12; Potsdam 52, Canton 20; OFA 27, Tupper Lake 26; Massena 40, St. Lawrence 26.
Potsdam 34, Franklin Academy 0; Canton 35, St. Lawrence 22; Tupper Lake 27, Gouverneur 12; OFA 25, Massena 20.
Franklin Academy 25, Tupper Lake 24, Potsdam 44, OFA 14; Massena 28, Canton 8; St. Lawrence 38, Gouverneur 12.
Friday, Oct. 11
Franklin Academy 47, Canton 30; Potsdam 56, Tupper Lake 19; Massena 42, Gouverneur 19; OFA 52, St. Lawrence 40.
Franklin Academy 20, St. Lawrence 12; Potsdam 36, Massena 12; OFA 40, Gouverneur 22; Tupper Lake 38, Canton 20
Massena 25, Franklin Academy 18; Potsdam 46, St. Lawrence 18; OFA 48, Canton 0; Tupper Lake 34, Gouverneur 7
Friday, Nov. 1
Class C Final
OFA at Potsdam, 7 p.m.
Massena at Tupper Lake, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2
Class B Final
Gouverneur at Franklin Academy, 1:30 p.m.