BY RICKY ST. CLAIR Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh North Stars reeled off their third consecutive Empire Football League (EFL) win, defeating the Syracuse Shock 38-18 Saturday.
With the victory, the North Stars (3-1, 3-0) took over sole possession of first place in the EFL standings.
“We’re playing with a total-team effort,” Plattsburgh coach Scott Aguglia said. “That’s what football is all about. If you get contributions on both sides of the football and special teams, then magical things happen. Right now, we’re clicking on all cylinders.”
The North Stars opened the game’s scoring just 4:31 into the contest when quarterback Harry Rascoe hit Bret Boyer with a 23-yard touchdown strike.
Then, with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter, Rascoe found Dexter Geohagan in the corner of the end zone to make it a two-possession game.
“A team like Syracuse, you can’t let them get momentum,” Aguglia said. “It was very important for us to come in and shut them down right away. We put some points on the board early, and we made them have to think about it a little bit.
“We were able to pretty much execute our game plan offensively. When you can do that, things get easier. We did a good job of maintaining drives and keeping their offense off the field.”
The Shock (2-1, 2-1) only managed 76 yards of total offense in the first half, with one touchdown coming after a Plattsburgh turnover at its own 14-yard line.
“Our defense — they’re playing great right now,” Aguglia said. “I think we’ve got the right combination of guys in the game. They’re just making things happen. It’s great to sit back and watch them play. They’re arriving at the football with multiple helmets.”
During their two-game EFL winning streak, the North Stars failed to commit one offensive turnover.
Plattsburgh, though, helped Syracuse cut the score to a five-point game when Leron Brown picked Rascoe off with just over five minutes gone in the third quarter.
Twelve of the Shock’s 18 points in the game resulted in points off turnovers.
“You’re bound to have them sooner or later,” Aguglia said. “The important thing is we didn’t let it stay with us the entire game. We bounced back and took care of the football the rest of the way. That’s all I can ask. They’re human, and they’re going to make mistakes.”
Up 17-12 with less than 10 seconds gone in the fourth quarter, the North Stars extended their lead to 12 when Rascoe found DJ Barber for his third touchdown toss of the game.
After Geohagan grabbed his second touchdown reception at 3:43, Brandon St. John picked off Syracuse quarterback TJ Sheard, running 30 yards down Plattsburgh’s sideline to the end zone.
St. John and former Peru and Alfred University standout Alec Currier each grabbed critical interceptions in the second half.
“Alec’s interception was extremely important,” Aguglia said. “He made a great break on the football and that was at a key time in the game. Brandon’s was a little bit later, and we didn’t necessarily need that last touchdown, but it was nice to kind of put the game away with that.”
Rascoe finished the game 16-for-29 with 232 yards and four touchdowns through the air, bringing his EFL total to 724 yards and 14 touchdowns through three games.
Three receivers — Ryan St. Clair (72), Geohagan (63) and Barber (62) — accumulated over 60 receiving yards.
With the EFL yet to determine the outcome of already scheduled games against Montreal, Aguglia anticipates a forfeit win before traveling to Watertown Aug. 10.
“I’m happy that we have two weeks to prepare for Watertown,” Aguglia said. “Going there is always a good football game. I’m expecting nothing but the same from them, a hard-nosed running attack and in-your-face defense. We’ll break it down further over the next couple of days. Otherwise, I’m very happy. (Saturday) was a great team win.”
Plattsburgh 38, Syracuse 18
Syracuse 0 6 6 6 — 18
Plattsburgh 14 3 0 21 — 38
P- Boyer 23 pass from Rascoe (Barber kick), 4:31.
P- Geohagan 13 pass from Rascoe (Barber kick), 14:52.
S- Gordon 9 run (pass failed), 8:09.
P- Barber 20 FG, 11:44.
S- Sheard 1 run (run failed), 9:43.
P- Barber 26 pass from Rascoe (Boyer kick), 0:08.
P- Geohagan 4 pass from Rascoe (Barber kick), 3:43.
S- Burke 7 pass from Sheard (pass failed), 7:47.
P- St. John 30 interception return (Barber kick), 12:08.
P- Nephew 11-34; Parks 5-14; Karnley 3-8; Barber 1-0; Rascoe 2-(-2). Totals: 22-54.
S- Gordon 11-47; Sheard 7-46; Hardwick 12-36. Totals: 30-129.
P- Rascoe 16-29-1-232, 4 TD.
S- Sheard 13-26-2-79, TD.
P- St. Clair 4-72; Geohagan 5-63, 2 TD; Barber 4-62, TD; Boyer 1-23, TD; Price 1-17; Parks 1-2.
S- Gordon 4-34; Burke 4-17, TD; Trombley 3-17; Porch 1-10; Dykes 1-1.
P- St. John, Currier. S- Brown.