By COURTNEY LEWIS
---- — SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake threw a little wrinkle in its offense, made good use of an under-the-radar receiver and made big defensive plays when it needed to Saturday.
The Red Storm took a 21-0 lead into halftime and ended up with a 40-6 Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football victory over Beekmantown.
Matt Phelan started things off by hitting Kevin Morgan for a 6-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the first quarter, and in the second he launched a 37-yard strike to Morgan to make it 13-0. That second score happened only after Beekmantown was called offsides on fourth down near midfield, giving the Red Storm (6-0) a first down and new life.
The Eagles fumbled away their next possession, and on fourth down of Saranac Lake’s ensuing drive, Seth Pickreign fired a halfback pass to Jonathan McCabe for a 23-yard touchdown. Coach Eric Bennett said the Red Storm have had that play in their playbook all along and were waiting for a good opportunity to use it.
Beekmantown coach Jamie Lozier said the costly penalty and turnover were frustrating.
“I mean we can’t win games against anybody let alone one of the best teams in the league when we turn the ball over and just make youthful mistakes,” he said.
The Eagles missed a great chance to trim their deficit before the end of the half. Justin Stevens returned a punt all the way to Saranac Lake’s 6, but the Red Storm made a defensive stand. Beekmantown tried four rushes and was denied entrance to the end zone every time.
“That was the ball game right there,” Bennett said. “To potentially go into the half 21-7 and instead have a goal-line stand to make it 21-0 … not only was it good for the scoreboard, it was good for our morale. And I’m sure it stung them a little bit.”
The Red Storm needed just 20 seconds to add to that lead in the second half. On the first play from scrimmage, Phelan ran 41 yards down the far sideline to the end zone. Pickreign ran five yards for a score in the middle of the third, and then McCabe swiped an interception and returned it 75 yards for his second touchdown of the day.
McCabe led the Saranac Lake receivers with four catches for 48 yards. The senior, who’s usually overshadowed by Morgan and Mike Burpoe, had three receptions going into Saturday’s game.
“Jon’s a hard-working kid who comes to work every day,” Bennett said. “Never asks for anything. He earns everything he gets.
“And we’ve been waiting for an opportunity to have him come out from under the radar a little bit, and (Saturday) he just had a tremendous game.”
Morgan finished with three catches for 41 yards, and Craig Leahy had three for 30. Phelan went 10-for-13 for 97 yards through the air and rushed for 64. Lance Ackerson ran for a team-high 66 yards on eight carries.
Beekmantown (4-2) spoiled the shutout when Jacob Remchuk connected with Dustin Pickering and he ran to the end zone for a 49-yard play with 1:46 left. Pickering totaled 51 rushing yards, and Devin Fessette had 68.
Remchuk started in place of Zachary Myers, who has a high-ankle sprain but is expected back next week, according to Lozier. Remchuk, a junior, was 7-for-14 for 93 yards and was picked off twice.
Saranac Lake has won all six of its games by at least three touchdowns and has outscored its opponents 90-12 the last two weeks.
“For one, they’re well coached. They’ve got great athletes, they’re fast and they’re very good tacklers,” Lozier said. “They don’t miss the tackles that they should make. It’s a good, solid D. And on offense, if you have a weak spot, they find it and they hurt you with it.”
Saranac Lake 40, Beekmantown 6
Beekmantown 0 0 6 0 — 6
Saranac Lake 7 14 19 0 — 40
SL- Morgan 6 pass from Phelan (Pickreign kick), 11:03.
SL- Morgan 37 pass from Phelan (kick wide), 4:24.
SL- McCabe 23 pass from Pickreign (Ackerson run), 6:38.
SL- Phelan 41 run (Thurber kick), 0:20.
SL- Pickreign 5 run (kick missed), 5:47.
SL- McCabe 75 interception return (kick missed), 7:53.
Beek- Pickering pass from Remchuk (pass failed), 10:14.
Beek- Fessette 15-68; Pickering 13-51; Roser 1-14; Stevens 1-(-1); Rechuk 3-(-2). Totals: 33-130.
SL- Ackerson 8-66; Phelan 7-64, TD; Grebe 6-26; Thurber 5-22; Pickreign 5-(-3), TD; Fitzgerald 3-(-15). Totals: 34-160, 2 TD.
Beek- Remchuck 7-14-2-93, TD.
SL- Phelan 10-13-0-97, 2 TD; Fitzgerald 2-4-0-8; Pickreign 1-1-0-23, TD. Totals: 13-18-0-128, 2 TD.
Beek- Stevens 4-37; Pickering 2-58, TD; Dupigny 1-(-2).
SL- McCabe 4-48, TD; Morgan 3-41, 2 TD; Leahy 3-30; Burpoe 1-7; Monroe 1-2; Murnane 1-0.
SL- McCabe, Monroe.
Email Courtney Lewis: firstname.lastname@example.org