PLATTSBURGH — Beekmantown was poised to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth quarter Saturday with first-and-10 at Saranac Lake’s 14-yard line.
The Red Storm stopped the Eagles short of the end zone.
But don’t ask Eric Bennett about the strategy.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know how we did it,” the Saranac Lake coach said of the crucial defensive stand.
Saranac Lake held Beekmantown scoreless throughout the fourth quarter to seal a 28-21 win in a Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football game at Plattsburgh High School.
“One thing that we’ve really worked on is team chemistry and just evolving from a young team to a team that’s got some game experience under its belt,” Bennett said. “Along that, I think we’re really reaching down and figuring what we’re made of and what we have inside. And it’s great to see that grittiness come out of our kids.
“I think (the stop) wasn’t scheme; that was kids. And it was awesome.”
The Red Storm (4-2), who lost 19 starters from last year, opened this season with a 33-7 loss to Peru and later lost to Ticonderoga by three touchdowns. But they grabbed their second straight win Saturday, and senior Dylan Gunther said they showed their potential.
“We’ve gotten a lot better since Week 1,” he said. “I think this game’s definitely a statement game of how good we actually are.”
Saranac Lake pulled ahead early in the fourth quarter when Lance Ackerson ran 14 yards up the middle and Ty Marmion kicked the extra point to make it 28-21. Beekmantown (3-3) looked like it would have a quick answer after Cameron Garceau’s 31-yard reception put them 14 yards from the end zone. But Saranac Lake took over on downs.
That drive was cut short by an interception, giving the Eagles yet another great opportunity. Carl Bevilacqua immediately picked off a Beekmantown pass, and Saranac Lake ran out the clock by converting for three first downs.
Tristan Fitzgerald, who has settled in as the Red Storm’s quarterback, led them both through the air and on the ground. He ran for 107 yards and a touchdown and completed 20-of-35 passes for 176 yards and two more scores.
Gunther was his top target with eight catches, 53 yards and a score. He also had an interception and a long kick return. Marmion caught five balls for 53 yards and the game’s first touchdown.
The 35 passing attempts were a season high, and Bennett said the Red Storm expected to have to move the ball through the air because Beekmantown has a big front line.
Beekmantown coach Jamie Lozier said his team didn’t execute well and added that he hadn’t scouted Saranac Lake since Week 1 and was surprised by some things.
“Their quarterback. We were not quite ready for his athleticism,” Lozier said. “I don’t even know where he came from.”
Beekmantown quarterback Jacob Remchuk connected on 9-of-17 passes for 125 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Devin Fessette ran for a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 1-yarder in the second as the Eagles took a 14-7 lead into halftime. He finished with 33 rushing yards.
Saranac Lake got within 14-13 with Gunther’s 12-yard touchdown catch early in the third. Then Justin Stevens nearly brought back the kickoff, but James Murnane stopped him at the 21 with a last-ditch effort that Bennett said was huge.
“So it’s a bunch of little plays being made all over the field all day,” Bennett said. “Just an outstanding effort from our kids, and we’re happy to see them evolve to where they are.”
The Eagles did not end up scoring, and Fitzgerald sneaked in from the 2 at the other end for a 21-14 lead.
As the third quarter expired, Beekmantown tied it up on a 29-yard catch-and-run play by Justin Stevens, who had team highs of four catches and 55 rushing yards. But the Eagles never made it to the end zone again.
Saranac Lake 28, Beekmantown 21
Saranac Lake 7 0 14 7 — 28
Beekmantown 7 7 7 0 — 21
SL- Marmion 11 pass from Tri. Fitzgerald (Marmion kick), 3:51.
Beek- Fessette 3 run (Remchuk kick), 7:55.
Beek- Fessette 1 run (Remchuk kick), 9:15.
SL- Gunther 12 pass from Tri. Fitzgerald (kick missed), 3:37.
SL- Tri. Fitzgerald 2 run (Marmion pass from Tri. Fitzgerald), 6:47.
Beek- Stevens 29 pass from Remchuk (Remchuk kick), 12:00.
SL- Ackerson 14 run (Marmion kick), 1:38.
SL- Tri. Fitzgerald 23-107, TD; Ackerson19-94, TD; Fischer 1-15; Kilner 2-6; Gunther 2-3. Totals: 47-225, 2 TD.
Beek- Stevens 7-55; Fessette 9-33, 2 TD; Dupigny 1-7; Remchuk 6-(-16). Totals: 23-79, 2 TD.
SL- Tri. Fitzgerald 20-35-1-176, 2TD.
Beek- Remchuk 9-17-2-125, TD.
SL- Gunther 8-53, TD; Marmion 5-53, TD; Stack 2-24; Smith 2-20; Strack 2-12; Ackerson 1-14.
Beek- Stevens 4-48; Garceau 3-53; Myers 1-17; Barber 1-7.
SL- Gunther, Bevilacqua.
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