BEEKMANTOWN — Beekmantown and Peru looked less like high school football teams and more like heavyweight prize fighters Saturday.
With the Eagles maintaining a one-point lead in the third quarter, Justin Stevens returned a punt from his own 15-yard line and raced down the Peru sideline.
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He was met at midfield by Blake Altizer, who tackled Stevens into a foam padding that protects players from the aluminum bleachers. A free-for-all ensued, resulting in punches thrown and two game ejections.
In the most unusual of circumstances, it might have been the spark the Indians (4-0) needed in their 36-14 win.
No. 9 Peru outscored Beekmantown 30-7 after the altercation, extending its winning streak to five games over the Eagles (2-2) in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference play.
“It happened real fast,” Indians coach Nick Damiani said. “I don’t think it would have been a huge issue, except the sidelines are so close that they rolled up against the (padding) and into the ball bags. I did see some punches thrown. But I just saw a swarm on the sideline, and I just did the best I could to pull guys off whether they were Beekmantown (or Peru players).
“You’ve got two teams that really care about what they do. Both teams run high on emotion. I think anytime you get punched and pushed around, so to speak, you want your team to respond. But definitely, I think our guys got a little motivated after that.”
Peru’s offense, which entered Week 4 of the season averaging 409 yards per game, sputtered in the early going. The Indians could only muster 31 yards on 17 plays from scrimmage in the first half.
“It was the week of practice, really,” Peru wide receiver Zane Bazzano said. “It all comes down to focusing all five days leading up to the game. Monday, we were missing a couple guys. We’ve got to have a better week of practice from here on out.”