AUBURN — Despite all the excitement regarding a new playing surface, the Maroons couldn’t carry it over to game time.

Auburn football was defeated by Cicero-North Syracuse 54-7 Friday at Holland Stadium. The game was the Maroons’ first at home this season and first on Holland Stadium’s new artificial turf field.

Auburn was held to seven first downs on offense, with the chains moving three times on C-NS defensive penalties.

“That’s a very, very good football team over there. As good as we’ve seen in awhile,” Maroons coach Dave Moskov said. “We wanted to cut down on the mistakes and didn’t do a great job of that tonight. We’re still plagued by penalties. I thought our kids played tough tonight … a lot tougher than we did last Friday night. We’re outgunned at a lot of positions, and if you make one small misstep, they exploit it.”

Dajour Morris had the lone touchdown for the Maroons, recording 48 yards on six carries. Quashar Bowman rushed for 60 yards on 18 carries, adding one reception for 14 yards. Liam Schulz completed 11 passes for 69 yards and Evan Donovan caught seven passes for 54 yards.

The Maroons knew they were in for a stiff test against the Northstars, who are state-ranked and had wins of 42-14, 61-0 and 41-0 on the season. C-NS was as advertised in its meeting with Auburn. While the Maroons held firm in the first quarter and trailed 7-0, C-NS reached the end zone four times in the second quarter to take a 35-0 lead into halftime.

Most of the Northstars’ damage was done on first down where they reeled off scores of 50, 40, 21 and 57 yards.

“If one kid gets out of position it gets you in trouble and all those kids are one-way offensive kids,” Moskov said. “Their blocking is fantastic and they’re picking off a lot of our kids on the back side. If a kid comes too far and takes a bad angle there’s a seam and they’ll exploit it.”

C-NS continued to show off its big play ability in the second half as Erik Pride Jr. scored a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the frame. The Northstars scored twice more before Morris’ 8-yard touchdown run prevented the Maroons from being a shutout victim.

While Moskov acknowledged the talent of C-NS, he also recognized that his unit continued to play with pride until the final buzzer, despite the deficit.

“I thought our kids were really physical,” Moskov said. “I thought their attitude was solid. They knew by the end of the second quarter that things were getting out of hands for us, but they hung in there. They said, ‘Hey, lets not worry about it and get better in the second half.’ They bought in and played hard in the second half, and that’s always a positive.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier in the Maroons’ fourth game as 4-0 Baldwinsville comes to Holland Stadium on Friday. Like C-NS, the Bees are considered one of the top teams in New York.

“B’ville is another powerhouse coming in next week,” Moskov said. “They’re a similar squad (to C-NS). Big, huge kids up front and they’re going to try and run power football.”

Sports writer Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.