No. 1 Cam­bridge fal­ters vs. OFA in re­gional fi­nal

In­di­ans’ 18-game win­ning streak snapped as Dev­ils dom­i­nate line of scrim­mage

Albany Times Union - - SPORTS - By Dave Shea ▶ Dave Shea is a free­lance writer.

Af­ter his team suf­fered a 16-6 re­gional fi­nal loss to Og­dens­burg Free Academy un­der the canopy of cold rain at Pots­dam High School, Cam­bridge/ Salem foot­ball coach Doug Luke was asked what part luck played in the out­come of the game.

He an­swered “We had some fum­bles at the wrong time which hurt, but they made their own luck at the line of scrim­mage. They beat us up at the line and they didn’t make any big mis­takes.”

A strong night in the trenches an­chored an OFA de­fen­sive ef­fort which lim­ited the pre­vi­ously un­de­feated and No. 1 state-ranked In­di­ans to a sin­gle touch­down on an elec­tri­fy­ing 41-yard run by Thomas English with 6:01 left in the game. Cam­bridge came into the con­test rid­ing an 18-game win streak.

The In­di­ans’ hopes to pro­duce a onepos­ses­sion game were van­quished on a fum­bled snap from cen­ter and OFA was able to re­cover an on­side kick and run out the clock to ad­vance to next week­end’s state semi­fi­nals in Middletown.

“All of our line­men did a great job on of­fense and de­fense. We all have as­sign­ments and we car­ried them out very well,” said OFA two-way se­nior tackle Chris Gar­cia.

“It was just a great win for our team.” The Dev­ils’ of­fense and de­fense es­tab­lished them­selves im­me­di­ately in the con­test.

On Cam­bridge/salem’s first of­fen­sive play af­ter the open­ing kick­off, English was dropped for a 2-yard loss as line­backer Ma­son Tabolt knifed into the back­field.

Cam­bridge/salem was forced to punt and OFA an­swered with a nine-play, 59yard drive cli­maxed by Stephen Mor­ley forg­ing straight ahead into the end zone from three yards out.

Quar­ter­back Me­sean John­son fol­lowed with a two-point con­ver­sion pass to wide re­ceiver Jack­son Troiano.

Three fum­bles stymied the In­di­ans in the first half and the Dev­ils de­liv­ered the first of two fourth-down red zone stops and blocked a 24-yard field goal at­tempt be­fore tak­ing a 16-0 lead with 1:37 re­main­ing in the half. John­son lofted a roll­out pass to Troiano, who out­jumped a de­fen­sive back for the ball and raced free to the end zone to com­plete a 56-yard touch­down con­nec­tion. John­son fol­lowed with a two-point con­ver­sion pass to wing­back Hayden Ives.

“This game was all about mo­men­tum and we just couldn’t sus­tain mo­men­tum when we got it,” said Luke.

“We had some mis­takes and they stopped us when they had to. But we had a great year and we had great se­niors. I don’t think a lot of peo­ple ex­pected us to get this far af­ter mov­ing up to Class C. But we did.”

The In­di­ans’ de­fense held OFA score­less in the sec­ond half and English (93 yards on 13 car­ries) and Tyler Li­nen­doll (70 yards on 13 car­ries) led the of­fen­sive ef­fort. Run­ning back Wy­att Kirby pro­vided a ma­jor spark for OFA with 102 yards on 17 car­ries.

“This was just a great vic­tory. I told the guys to em­brace the weather and they did,” said OFA coach Matt Tess­mer, who led a Dev­ils team to the state fi­nal in 2016.

“We got big plays on of­fense, de­fense and spe­cial teams. Four Sec­tion X teams have ever made the Fi­nal Four and we are go­ing for the sec­ond time in three years.”

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