SARANAC – Matt McCasland and his Saranac Chief teammates used the big play to their advantage Saturday afternoon.
McCasland rushed for 226 yards and scored twice in the third quarter on runs of 80 and 46 yards to lead the Chiefs past Plattsburgh High School, 25-13, in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football action.
“We made a few halftime adjustments that worked out well,” said Saranac head coach Mark Burrell. “When Matt gets around the corner, he’s hard to stop with his speed.”
Burrell also credited left-side offensive linemen Nick Daniels and Tony Bushey, who helped free McCasland on both long-distance runs.
Saranac opened the scoring midway through the first quarter when fullback Kevin Jordan rumbled 14 yards up the middle, bouncing off a couple of defenders on his way to the score.
Jordan would not return to the game, however, after suffering an injury on the play.
“We had three or four key injuries before and during the game,” Burrell said, noting that wide receiver Tanner Rascoe did not suit up for the tilt. “But we had some other players jump up. We played well today.”
Both teams battled in the trenches for the rest of the half, bending at times but not breaking, until Plattsburgh took advantage of a failed Saranac fake punt late in the second quarter that left the ball on the Chief’s 34-yard line.
Plattsburgh signal caller Shawn Courson hit a wide open Jonas Miller for a 10-yard strike after he scrambled to avoid being sacked, tying the game at six with 32 seconds left in the opening half.
Courson also suffered an injured hand during the play and would not return for the second half.
“We knew at halftime that Shawn was not going to return,” said Hornets coach Jerry Defayette. “We knew we had to make some changes.”
Saranac stymied the Hornets’ opening drive of the third quarter after four plays from scrimmage, and McCasland put the Chiefs on top to stay on Saranac’s first play of the half, an 80-yard scamper around left end as he ran untouched to pay dirt.
Lightning struck twice as the third quarter drew to a close when McCasland scored his second TD from 46 yards out on the identical play.
Plattsburgh responded when sophomore quarterback Deandre Lemieux connected with Robert Matthews for an 11-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. Lemieux was hit by a stunting linebacker just as he released the scoring pass.
“I have to give Deandre a lot of credit,” Defayette said. “As a sophomore, he really showed a lot of poise filling in for Shawn.”
Saranac quarterback Ethan Goslin finished the scoring late in the game when he hit John Maye on a 31-yard strike on a fourth-down play as the Hornets were attempting to stall the Chief’s and set up a late drive of their own.
“Our players never quit,” Defayette said. “You don’t prepare all week to lose the game, but one of the positive things we can look at is that we came to play and did not quit.”
Burrell praised the Hornets’ effort but was also proud of the effort his players showed to the final buzzer.
“Our kids are well-conditioned,” he said. “They come into each game ready to work hard until the end.”
Chad Moulton had four catches for 56 yards to lead the Saranac air game while Miller had 136 receiving yards for Plattsburgh. Lemieux had 102 passing yards in the second half.
Saranac 25, Plattsburgh 13
Plattsburgh 0 6 0 7 – 13
Saranac 6 0 13 6 – 25
S- Jordan 14 run (kick failed), 6:20.
PHS- Miller 10 pass from Courson (kick failed), 11:28.
S- McCasland 80 run (run failed), 2:56.
S- McCasland 46 run (Pellerin kick), 11:25.
PHS- Matthews 11 pass from Lemieux (Shea kick), 1:32.
S- Maye 31 pass from Goslin (kick failed), 10:19.
PHS- Miller, 21-63; Shea, 10-42; Courson, 5-21; Lemieux, 3-1. Totals: 39-127.
Sar- McCasland, 12-226, 2 TDs; Goslin, 5-1; Jordan, 1-14, TD; Maye, 12-48; Pellerin, 3-(-5). Totals: 33-284, 3 TDs.