NEWPORT-The North Country Falcons came back from a 37-6 deficit by dominating the second half of Friday night’s Division two playoff game. However, that early 31 point margin was too much to come back from as the Falcons were ousted from the semi final round by the score of 37-26, one game short of a championship game bid.
North Country had rolled into the contest with a 9-0 record and an impressive decision over these same Bulldogs just two weeks ago. B and B was ready this time, and they immediately got on the scoreboard.
The opening kickoff was picked up on the 19 yard line by the Bulldogs Mitch Magarian and he went down the left sideline barely touched for an 81 yard scoring play before many Falcon fans had even got to their seats.
After NCUHS had driven to the Bulldog 15 and fumbled, Burr and Burton added a 24 yard strike from senior quarterback Jake Stalrup to Max Johnson. Johnson who made a great inside move at the 15, glided into the endzone. Jake Oliver kicked the extra point and added a field goal from 23 yards out on the Bulldogs next possession and the shocked Falcons were looking up at 16-0 deficit as the first quarter ended.
The North Country fans and players got back into it emotionally when 6’3 senior Adam Fortin picked off a Stalcup throw on the bulldogs next possession. Fortin, from his defensive end position rumbled into the end zone for six.
The Bulldogs offense was on a roll and it continued. Stalcup came right back on the next series drilling outstanding receiver Jake Oliver with a slant over the middle at the Falcon 30. Oliver turned on the speed burners and veered into the left flat breaking wide open and running into the end zone completing a 44 yard pass play.
Then it was the shifty Mitch Magarian’s turn again. He took a draw play 35 yards for another score and then was on the receiving end of a 14 yard bullet from Stalcup for another touchdown. The try for two was good and Burr and Burton had played a nearly perfect offensive first half leading 37-6.
The Falcons regained their composure and went back to basics. That worked well as they drove the football 67 yards with Nick LeClair sweeping in from 12 yards out. That brought NCU back to 37-12 as the halftime horn blared.
North Country’s football team has gone through a lot this fall and were not about to give up the fight.
With the offensive front line baring their teeth with Ben Bonneau and Cody Collins moving manpower up front, NCU took the second half kickoff and pounded the ball inside with the occasional throw to Jacob Buckles. The Falcons hit pay dirt on their first possession of the third quarter when LeClair finished off an impressive drive.
He scored his 20th touchdown of the year as he blasted in from the one yard line making it 37-18 and getting his team back in the contest.
Adam Pothier converted the only two pointer of the night for NCU and the Falcons were charged up closing the gap to 37-20.
The NCUHS defense, pushed around in the first half, began to have their way in the second. Bubba Collins, Jason Webster and Nate Morin and their defensive teammates rose to the challenge and shut down the vaulted B and B offense in the second half.
When senior Falcon quarterback Tre Sanville crunched his way in from the two yard line their was over 8 minutes left in the contest and now NC was trailing by 11, 37-26.
The Falcon defense kept playing inspired football and gave the Falcon offense the ball on three more possessions late in the fourth quarter. Each drive was stopped by the Bulldogs on pick-offs as the Falcons were forced to play out of their comfort zone, having to throw and fighting the clock and the scoreboard as well.
That early margin was just too much to overcome in the end, and despite NCU’s gallant second half charge, the Falcon’s memorable year had come to a halt.
Head Coach Bob Davis said,” We got behind big and they really took us out of our rhythm. I thought our kids did a heckuva job settling down and coming back strong. We played very well in the second half shutting them out and we ran the ball very well. But playing against the clock made it impossible to just run the ball. It simply takes too much time off the clock. That forced us to throw more than we wanted to. I don’t like a bad half to be remembered as much as the outstanding overall year.”
The Falcons close the books on 2011 at 9-1 while the Bulldogs, now 7-3 advance to the state title game next week against Fair Haven, a 27-21 winner over Milton.
NCUHS had over 180 yards on the ground with LeClair accounting for 126 on 20 carries. Sanville added 51 yards on 13 hard earned carries. Jacob Buckles had 100 yards receiving on five catches.
To the Falcons and their 19 seniors, the Newport Daily Express would like to thank you for a great ride and the best of luck in future endeavors. And Falcon footballers should hold their heads high as they did the school and the Orleans County community proud.