SARANAC LAKE — With senior quarterback Trent Fitzgerald out because of an injury, his little brother has stepped in aptly.
Tristan Fitzgerald, a sophomore, threw four touchdowns passes in his second start to lead Saranac Lake past AuSable Valley 34-21 in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football Saturday.
“It’s nice to see a young quarterback coming of age,” Saranac Lake coach Eric Bennett said. “He seems pretty calm, cool and collected, and he made some big, critical plays when he needed to.”
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The Red Storm (2-2) trailed late in the second quarter, but after a big momentum swing, they took a lead into halftime. The Patriots (1-3) thought they had added to their advantage with an 82-yard touchdown by Shane Douglas, but a personal foul brought it all the way back and the drive ended with a punt.
Fitzgerald found a wide open Dustin Fischer down the left side for a 19-yard score, tying the game at 14-14 with 1:37 left in the second quarter. AuSable Valley went long on the first play of its next possession, and Ty Marmion picked off the pass and returned it to the Patriots’ 39-yard line.
Fitzgerald immediately connected with Dylan Gunther in the right corner of the end zone with 25.2 seconds on the clock, and the Red Storm led 21-14 at the half.
“And that was great for our morale and momentum going into the second half,” Bennett said.
Another turnover in the third quarter helped Saranac Lake take control for good. The Red Storm had a bad possession and had to punt, but the ball hit an AuSable Valley player and bounced to the ground, where Alex Donaldson scooped it up. Saranac Lake’s ensuing drive ended with Marmion’s 25-yard touchdown reception as the quarter ended.
Fitzgerald connected with Gunther on a 33-yard score in the middle of the fourth, putting the Red Storm ahead 34-14.
The Fitzgerald brothers shared quarterback duties in Saranac Lake’s first two games, although Trent started both. When he injured his leg, Tristan took over. The younger Fitzgerald had 18 completions and two touchdowns through three games. He went 10-for-15 for 228 yards, four scores and an interception on Saturday.
Tristan said his brother expects to find out on Tuesday if he can return for the next game. Tristan added that he likes taking all the snaps, but he hopes Trent doesn’t have to miss any more time.
“I’m very comfortable (as the starter),” Tristan said. “And it’s coach’s decision from here on out, and I’ll live with it.”
Fitzgerald’s counterpart on Saturday, John Goodnough, was also his team’s catalyst. He threw a 14-yard touchdown strike to Tyler Champine with 4:02 left in the game to put the Patriots back within two scores. Goodnough finished with 162 passing yards on 19-of-30 but had four interceptions, including Jack Martin’s second of the game to end AuSable Valley’s final drive.
Goodnough also led the Patriots in rushing with 46 yards and a touchdown. Their top running back, Dillon Savage, had to sit the game out after getting ejected from the previous contest.
Champine had 55 receiving yards on six catches, including a 9-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Patriots a 14-7 lead. Sultan Sikandar caught five passes for 57 yards.
Gunther led Saranac Lake’s receivers with four catches and 86 yards. Fischer ran 15 yard to the end zone for the game’s first score. Marmion did a little bit of everything for the Red Storm. The junior grabbed two balls on offense for 57 yards, intercepted two passes on defense and ran for 14 yards.
“Ty showed us his full potential today. And it’s great to see a dynamic player like that get his touches, gain some confidence,” Bennett said. “We know we’re an inexperienced team. We’re young, and hopefully these reps today will make us a better team moving forward.”
Saranac Lake 34, AuSable Valley 21
AuSable Valley 7 7 0 7 — 21
Saranac Lake 7 14 6 7 — 34
SL- Fischer 14 run (Marmion kick), 1:27.
AV- Goodnough 1 run (Friedrich kick), 11:17.
AV- Champine 9 pass from Goodnough (Friedrich kick), 4:20.
SL- Fischer 19 pass from Tri. Fitzgerald (Marmion kick), 10:23.
SL- Gunther 39 pass from Tri. Fitzgerald (Marmion kick), 11:34.
SL- Marmion 25 pass from Tri. Fitzgerald (Marmion kick), 12:00.
SL- Gunther 33 pass from Tri. Fitzgerald (kick missed), 4:48.
AV- Champine 14 pass from Goodnough (Friedrich kick), 7:58.
AV- Goodnough 13-46, TD; Kennedy 8-12; Ashline 2-0; Pray 1-0; Douglas 3-(-12). Totals: 25-46, TD.
SL- Ackerson 10-39; Thurber 3-23; Fischer 1-15, TD; Tri. Fitzgerald 9-14; Marmion 3-14; Clark 1-6; Ryan 1-4; Martin 1-3; Kilner 1-3. Totals: 32-116, TD.
AV- Goodnough 19-30-4-162, 2 TD.
SL- Tri. Fitzgerald 10-15-1-228, 4 TD.
AV- Champine 6-55, 2 TD; Sikandar 5-57; Perez 2-17; Ashline 2-15, Douglas 2-10; Perkett 1-7; Kennedy 1-1.
SL- Gunther 4-86, 2 TD; Marmion 2-57, TD; Stack 2-48; Fischer 1-19, TD; Bevilacqua 1-18.
SL- Martin 2, Marmion 2.
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