TICONDEROGA — The Sentinels had Friday's game marked on their calendars for a long time.
Now they can mark it in the win column.
Class D's Ticonderoga took on Class B's Beekmantown in the opening week of the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football season, and the Sentinels held off the Eagles for a 32-21 win.
"That's a huge win for us," Ticonderoga coach Bob Sutphen said. "We had this one circled from the time (last) season ended. We said, 'That's a game we gotta have to start.' "We saw they're pretty big and pretty fast and stuff like that, but our kids aren't intimidated by the picture-in-the-newspaper kind of thing.
I'm very proud of them."
Both teams were sloppy early, but when Ticonderoga scored its first two touchdowns, Beekmantown immediately answered.
After the Eagles muffed a punt return and gave the Sentinels the ball 16 yards from the end zone, Ticonderoga used six plays, including Cameron Wright's touchdown run from the 1-yard line, to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. Ticonderoga quickly got the ball back, but Justin Stevens picked off a pass and ran it back 79 yards for a touchdown 25 seconds after the Sentinels scored. On fourth-and-inches early in the second, Anthony DuShane caught a 19-yard touchdown pass to put Ticonderoga ahead, and Stevens again came up with a big play to tie it up again. The Beekmantown junior running back sprinted 71 yards down the right sideline to score.
Late in the second, the Sentinels put together a 79-yard scoring drive punctuated when Ty Denno went up for a nice catch with 3:32 left. That gave them a 20-14 lead, and Sutphen said it was key for momentum, especially because Ticonderoga got the ball back to start the third and added another touchdown.
Beekmantown had three turnovers in the first quarter and two more the rest of the way. Coach Jamie Lozier knew the Eagles had plenty of athleticism but realized they weren't prepared.
"With this team, it's a good, very fast athletic team, but we found we have to do a little bit more with them," Lozier said. "We've been sticking with the basics a little bit more, and when we had to adjust, they weren't quite ready for the adjustments. So as coaches, we feel we should've prepared them a little bit more for this one."
Ticonderoga took the ball 64 yards on the opening drive of the third quarter, and Wright punched it in for his second touchdown of the day, making the score 26-14. The senior newcomer totaled a game-high 136 yards on 33 carries.
Beekmantown responded with more flash from Stevens. He returned the kickoff a long way and later found a hole and outran everybody for a 31-yard touchdown. But Ticonderoga scored again early in the fourth, on a 4-yard run by Jarryn Granger, and Beekmantown didn't have any more answers. Granger grabbed an interception on the Eagles' next possession, and the Sentinels chewed up the clock.
Sutphen had concerns about the offensive line heading into the game, but even with an early injury to a lineman, the Sentinels were strong in the trenches.
"We were tough inside on the offensive side, and we were able to run the football," Sutphen said. "When you have guys that are inside and they're going to tough it out and they're going to grow up and mature, now we've got something to work with. And we didn't know that going into (Friday), but we do now. And we're pretty excited about that." Stevens was responsible for most of Beekmantown's yards, running for 132 on just nine carries. Devin Fessette added 33 rushing yards. The Eagles lost wide receiver Cameron Garceau early on and didn't get much out of their passing game until the fourth quarter.
"We learned that Ti was tougher than we thought," Lozier said. "I give them a lot of credit. Their offensive line did a super job. Their running backs were consistent."
Ticonderoga 32, Beekmantown 21
Beekmantown 7 7 7 0 — 21
Ticonderoga 7 13 6 6 — 32
Ti- Wright 1 run (Denno kick), 10:22.
Beek- Stevens 79 interception return (Remchuk kick), 10:47.
Ti- DuShane 19 pass from Graney (Denno kick), 0:26.
Beek- Stevens 71 run (Remchuk kick), 0:47.
Ti- Denno 10 pass from Graney (kick missed), 6:28.
Ti- Wright 1 run (run failed), 5:14.
Beek- Stevens 31 run (Remchuck kick), 6:30.
Ti- Granger 4 run (pass failed), 0:21.
Beek- Stevens 9-132, 2 TD; Fessette 7-33; Dupigny 1-1; Remchuk 1-(-8). Totals 18-158, 2 TD.
Ti- Wright 33-136, 2 TD; J. Granger 21-92, TD; Graney 3-3; Trudeau 1-3. Totals: 58-234, 3 TD.
Beek- Remchuk 4-11-3-49.
Ti- Graney 4-12-1-50, 2 TD.
Beek- Dupigny 3-35; Stevens 1-14.
Ti- Granger 2-21; DuShane 1-19, TD; Denno 1-10, TD.
Ti- Hughes, Denno, Granger.
Email Courtney Lewis