Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stars hold off Watertown

Published July 13, 2008 12:45 am - Plattsburgh wins Empire Football League opener.

Stars hold off Watertown

Staff Writer
WATERTOWN -- Stepping onto the field against the oldest semi-pro football team in the country and in front of an anxious and hostile Watertown crowd is about as least comfortable as it gets for an Empire Football League team.

However, walking off the field with a 19-13 upset win over the Red and Black in the season opener makes it all better.

"We did what we had to do to win," North Stars' head coach Pat Keleher said after Saturday night's victory. "When you come out of here with a win, I don't care how pretty or ugly it is, it's huge."

The win was anything but easy for Plattsburgh despite an almost perfect first half.

The Stars went into halftime with a commanding 19-0 lead thanks to stellar defense, two touchdown runs by Kyle Nolan, and a 42-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Nolan to Kelly Gordon.

"The first half went like we wanted," Keleher said. "We pretty much contained them. We ran the ball enough to keep them honest, and Kellen threw the ball pretty well. I couldn't have been happier with the first half."

In the second half, things started out just as well.

Brandon Keleher finally broke open a big run, carrying the offense 51 yards and deep into Watertown territory.

However, the Stars' offensive possession was quickly put to an end when Kellen Nolan threw his only interception of the game in the Red and Black end zone.

"If we score there with a field goal, it would have been 20-0," Keleher said. "I think that would have made it almost impossible to come back with that type of offense."

A very questionable pass interference call on Kenny Ruwett led to a 16-yard touchdown run by Joe Brennan at the end of the third quarter, and a punt return touchdown by Lester Cole a couple possessions later quickly closed the gap to six points.

But the Stars defense, highlighted by two Kyle Babbie sacks and a Brandon St. John interception, didn't allow Watertown to get a sniff at the end zone for the rest of the game.

"We showed character at the end," Keleher said. "We got a first down when we needed one, and when we had to turn the ball over, we got it to midfield and held on."

(Kellen) Nolan completed 11 passes on 19 attempts for 165 yards, and (Kyle) Nolan and Keleher both exceeded 50 yards on the ground.

Kelly Gordon caught three passes for 74 yards, and Matt St. Clair recorded 52 yards receiving.

"The morale with the players is sky-high," Keleher said. "I think this sends a good message to the league."

The Stars' return home next weekend to host Amsterdam.

"We still have work to do," he added. "We've got some issues with our personnel that we need to solve to make us a little better, and Amsterdam's a good team. But I think we're pretty good too."

Plattsburgh 19, Watertown 13

Plattsburgh 7 12 0 0 -- 19

Watertown 0 0 6 7 -- 13

First quarter

Stars- Kyle Nolan 1 yard run, (Currier, PAT), 5:30

Second quarter

Stars- Kyle Nolan 33 yard run (PAT no good), 10:16

Stars- Kelly Gordon 42 pass from Kellen Nolan (PAT no good), 1:52

Third quarter

R&B- Brennan 16 run, (PAT no good), 1:55

Fourth quarter

R&B- Cole 45 punt return (kick good), 7:47.

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