Moriah's Jessup Calkins recorded two interceptions and scored on a 67-yard kickoff return as the Vikings returned to the Class D championship game with a 28-20 win over the Tupper Lake Lumberjacks Oct. 28.
The Moriah Vikings are the three-time defending Section VII/Class D champions, and on Oct. 28, they proved that the only way to be the champ is to beat them.
The Vikings set up another finals clash with rival Ticonderoga as Tom Ida opened the game with an 81-yard kickoff return and Jessup Calkins had a 67-yard kickoff return and a pair of touchdowns to lead their team past the second-seeded Tupper Lake Lumberjacks, 28-20.
“I saw the hole open up and the wedge worked and we had good blocking,” Calkins said about his third quarter scamper that gave the Vikings a 21-14 lead. “It’s a new season to when you get to sectionals, and this is a great way to start the season.”
Calkins said that he was able to read the Lumberjack quarterback, Morgan Stevens, on both of his interceptions.
“I was able to read the play and I caught the ball,” he said.
“That’s a pretty good night for just about anyone,” Vikings head coach Don Tesar said after the game. “The first interception was a key play, and the second one was, too. The kickoff was the biggest of the three, because they had just tied the score at 14-14 and it gave us another spark.”
Another spark was the opening return by Ida, who also ran the ball 16 times for 111 yards and a second touchdown.
“I think that this team that we have has to get on the board first for the momentum,” Tesar said.
“When I saw the ball go under Jeff Greenough, I pickled up the ball,” Ida said. “We are told to go to the middle and when I got their the return team had crashed to the middle, so I took it out to the sideline, beat the man out there and got to the end zone.”
Special teams were key in the game, as the Ida kick return and a 50-yard punt return that deflected off a Moriah player and into the hands of Lumberjack Garrett Planty were the only scores of the first half.
The Lumberjacks also missed on two of three two-point conversion attempts, including on following a 30-yard score by Tim Ropas (12 carries, 81 yards) late in the fourth quarter. Ropas got the ball on the conversion attempt, but was stopped short of the goal line, leaving the score at 21-20 in favor of the Vikings.
The Lumberjacks then attempted an onside kick, which deflected off a Tupper Lake player before going 10 yards, giving the ball to Moriah. Ida then scored on a 33-yard run to give the Vikings a 28-20 lead.
On the ensuing drive, the Vikings capped the game with a sack and forced fumble by Justin Cutting (who also recovered a fumble as the halftime horn sounded), and tackles for losses on pass plays by Trevor Cheney (14-yard loss) and Skyler Graham(two-yard loss).
Tesar said that the momentum that led the Vikings to the Section VII/Class D title game came from their other win in 2011 against the AuSable Valley Patriots.
“We played well the whole game,” Tesar said. “Against Saranac, we showed that we could play that smash mouth style that we want to play and that has just carried into sectionals.”
“I wasn’t surprised how physical they were tonight - I was probably more surprised the first time we played the, with some of the things that we were able to do then,” Lumberjacks head coach Dennis Klossner said. “I felt that we got everything that we could out of our kids tonight. It’s tough to comeback like they had to every time, especially after you give up a kickoff return. They kept their heads up and kept playing.”
For the Vikings, Landon Cross, who returned to the quarterback position to replace an injured Cole Gaddor, ran for 48 yards and one touchdown while completing one-of-two passes for 23 yards to Travis Nephew. Taylor Whalen added 29 yards and Cheney added 22 yards as well as 1.5 tackles for loss and a half of a sack.
Carlo Calabrese had 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble, as the Vikings caused the Lumberjacks to run 20 plays that resulted in no gain or negative yardage, while the Vikings only had four.
Jordan Garrow finished with 90 yards on 17 carries, while Stone Keniston added 29 yards. Mitch Keniston had 46 yards receiving on four catches.
The Vikings (2-7) will face the Sentinels in the Class D finals next Friday, while the Lumberjacks finish the season at 6-3.
“We have to stop that running game,” Tesar said about the renewal of the rivalry. “It’s not just a one person attack.”
“We have to come to practice prepared and be mentally tough from the start to the end of the game,” Ida said.
Also in sectional football play, the AuSable Valley Patriots will return to the Section VII/Class C finals as they scored a 17-14 win over Ogdensburg in the semifinal round in Clintonville.
Trailing 7-0 at halftime, the Patriots (3-6) scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter against Ogdensburg as Austin House ran for a five-yard score and then connected with Kyle Prinsen on an 18-yard score.
After Ogdensburg tied the game in the fourth, Connor Manning connected on a 20-yard field goal with 3:52 remaining and the Patriots were able to stop Ogdensburg on a late fourth-and-one play to secure the win.
House finished with 62 yards rushing and 63 yards on 5-of-12 passing, while Kodie Simpson completed his lone pass for 69 yards. Prinsen had 103 yards receiving on three catches, while Manning had 32 receiving yards and the game-winning kick and an interception on Defense. Simpson (interception) and Evan Cobb (fumble recovery) also forced turnovers.
The third-seeded Elizabethtown-Lewis Lions scored an 8-0 win against the Wells Indians in the opening round of the Section VII/Class D boys soccer tournament, setting up the third meeting of the season between them and second-seeded Chazy Eagles, who beat their namesakes from Westport by an 11-0 score.
For the Lions, Hunter Mowery scored two goals and directed a third toward net on an indirect kick that resulted in a Wells own goal, along with assisting on two spectacular goals scored by Connor Apthorp.
“The first one, I was just trying to get a foot on it,” Apthorp said. “On the second one, I was at the right place at the right time. Our teams prepared well for this game and we came out to win and did just that.”
“We came out excited and ready to go,” Lions head coach Paul Buehler said. “They didn’t take this game lightly and we executed well.”
Brody Hooper, Tyler White and Patrick Philips also scored for the Lions.
“We have to work on our team spacing and team defense and stress good, smart organization and fast ball movement,” Buehler said about their upcoming game against Chazy. “They move fast, cover space and put pressure on you.”
“We have got to prepare hard for this,” Mowery said. “They are a good team, we have to go in there and want it.”
For Chazy, Josh Barriere, Brandon Laurin, Nolan Rogers and Hunter Dominy all scored two goals in the 11-0 victory over Westport, giving the defending state champions a 32-0 edge in goals over three contests.
In the top half of the bracket, the Willsboro Warriors will not be playing Division III champion Schroon Lake, as they were ousted by the fifth-seeded Minerva/Newcomb by a 4-3 score.