SARANAC — Saranac Lake went into Saturday planning to polish its passing game.
The results: Season-highs of 241 yards and four touchdowns for starting quarterback Matt Phelan.
Mike Burpoe caught two touchdown passes as the Red Storm hammered Saranac 42-6 in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football.
Phelan went 14-for-19.
“It was a point of emphasis this week to throw the ball a little bit, to get some reps,” Saranac Lake coach Eric Bennett said. “That had in part to do with also we were missing a couple backs that were injured. We have plenty of capable backs that can run the ball, but … we were playing against a defensive coverage that has a lot of 1-on-1 coverage. So we decided we’d try to take advantage of that, and I think it worked pretty well.”
The passing game shined from the get-go. Phelan connected with Burpoe on the Red Storm’s first play from scrimmage, and the senior receiver raced downfield for a 56-yard score.
Burpoe wrapped up Saranac quarterback Zach Lareau in the end zone for a safety in the middle of the first quarter, and then Phelan hit Kevin Morgan on a nice passing play for a 12-yard touchdown. Phelan ran in from the 18-yard line with 26 seconds left in the quarter, and Saranac Lake (7-0) headed to the second with a 23-0 cushion.
“All year we’ve had a hard time of starting out on a good note, but this game I think we set the tempo early, and that helped us a lot during the game,” Phelan said.
Burpoe made an over-the-shoulder catch in the back corner of the end zone with 8:39 left in the second. The Red Storm thought they had another long passing play for a touchdown a few minutes later, but a holding call put them on the 36-yard line. A Derek Thurber reception got them to the 5, and Guy Grebe motored in from the 2. Saranac Lake led 36-0 at halftime.
Burpoe finished with four catches for 72 yards, and Morgan had two for 50. Thurber grabbed Phelan’s fourth touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Phelan connected with seven different receivers in the game, and he said he’s fortunate to have so many options.
“It’s really nice. Those guys were awesome,” Phelan said. “They make my job easy by just throwing a screen pass and they take it for however many yards.”
Grebe led Saranac Lake on the ground with 52 yards on nine carries.
Saranac (2-5) reached the end zone near the end of the third, when Michael Bernardi broke free for a 34-yard run. Tony Bushey added a field goal as the clock wound down in the fourth.
Bernardi paced the Chiefs with 66 rushing yards.
Saranac begins the Section VII Class B playoffs at Beekmantown next week, and Saranac Lake plays a crossover with Moriah.
Saranac Lake 42, Saranac 11
Saranac Lake 23 13 7 0 — 42
Saranac 0 0 8 3 — 11
SL- Burpoe 56 pass from Phelan (Thurber), 1:52.
SL- Safety, 6:01.
SL- Morgan 12 pass from Phelan (Thurber kick), 7:11.
SL- Phelan 18 run (Thurber kick), 11:34.
SL- Burpoe 11 pass from Phelan (Thurber kick), 3:21.
SL- Grebe 2 run (kick missed), 7:56.
SL- Thurber 4 pass from Phelan (kick missed), 1:22.
Sar- Bernardi 34 run (Herrera run), 11:10.
Sar- Bushey 15 field goal, 12:00.
SL- Grebe 9-52, TD; Thurber 7-22; Phelan 5-12, TD; Monroe 1-6; Leahy 2-4; Strack 3-(-3). Totals: 26-93, 2 TD.
Sar- Bernardi 17-66, TD; Herrera 4-12; Jordan 3-1; Hackett 1-(-2); 8-(-13). Totals: 33-64, TD.
Sar- Lareau 3-12-2-19.
SL- Burpoe 4-72, 2 TD; Morgan 2-50, TD; Thurber 2-35, TD; Leahy 2-19; Fischer 2-11; McCabe 2-8; Grebe 1-54; Monroe 1-3.
Sar- Hackett 3-19.
SL- Morgan, Fischer.
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