CLINTONVILLE — Following a scoreless first half and a dismal 74 yards of total offense, Beekmantown head coach Jamie Lozier searched for a leader inside the Eagles locker room at the break.
In stepped first-year quarterback Zachary Myers.
The senior orchestrated a 70-yard, game-winning drive with 1:43 remaining in the game, which resulted in a touchdown strike to Haydin Fountain in an improbable 14-7 Champlain Valley Athletic Conference victory over AuSable Valley Friday.
During the five-play series, Myers completed 3-of-4 passes for 64 yards, nearly one-half of his game total.
“(Myers) took command of the offense and drove us down the field when we needed him most,” Lozier said. “He’s a veteran player on the team and he’s comfortable coordinating a drive in crunch time.”
The Eagles could only muster 38 rushing yards through the first 24 minutes of play, and Lozier attributed the sluggish start to the frigid temperatures and a coaching misjudgment.
“We got off the bus and played with no emotion,” Lozier said. “It was their Senior Night and we were anticipating more time for pre-game warm-ups than what we got. I take full responsibility for the mistimed start. It kind of messed with our psyche.”
Beekmantown opened scoring midway through the third quarter with a 27-yard touchdown reception from Justin Stevens to put the Eagles up 7-0.
However, the lead was short lived.
Patriots back Dillon Savage, who ranks third in the CVAC for total rushing yards, scored from two yards out to tie the score at seven apiece.
“We made some adjustments with our defense in an effort to slow Savage from getting to the outside, but he continued to hurt us in the second half,” Lozier said. “Those off-tackle runs proved to be the difference-maker for them. He and their quarterback (Kodie Simpson) were big-play threats throughout the entire course of the game.”
After a Patriots turnover on downs late in the fourth quarter, Myers hit Quenton Barber on a 25-yard strike and then another to Fountain, putting the ball inside the 10 yard line.
“I looked around at everybody in the huddle and said ‘we’re going to put this one in the end zone,’” Myers said. “(Fountain) played such a huge role during our final offensive drive with his two catches. He was clutch.”
Fountain, who entered the contest with five touchdown receptions, played a vital role in closing out the game with an interception on the ensuing AuSable Valley drive.
“In the last 10 minutes of the game, we trusted our coaching staff and each other,” Fountain said. “I wanted to do whatever it was I had to do to win this game for my teammates.”
AuSable Valley head coach Heath Ford credited the determination of his team, especially the play of Savage against a Class B championship contender in Beekmantown.
“(Savage) showed an unbelievable amount of pride,” Ford said. “Even though it’s a loss, we’re taking a lot of positives out of this game. We continue to improve every week and there’s no quit in this squad. We came together as a team tonight. It’s very promising.”
Savage finished the contest with 87 yards on 17 rushing attempts and a touchdown.
Beekmantown plays host to Saranac next weekend in the Class B semifinals, while AuSable Valley travels to Ticonderoga for a crossover matchup.
“We need a much better start in order to be successful,” Lozier said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and make some adjustments. I just hope we can execute.”
Beekmantown 14, AuSable Valley 7
Beekmantown 0 0 7 7 — 14
AuSable Valley 0 0 0 7 — 7
B- Stevens 27 pass from Myers (Remchuk kick), 5:37.
A- Savage 2 run (Owen kick), 1:54.
B- Fountain 5 pass from Myers (Remchuk kick), 11:21.
A- Savage 18-87, TD; Simpson 13-40; Owen 6-27. Team totals: 37-154, TD.
B- Fessette 17-65; Pickering 5-26; Stevens 1-2; Barber 1-(-11); Myers 4-(-25). Team totals: 28-57.
A- Simpson 1-6-1-4.
B- Myers 9-14-0-151, 2 TD.
A- Savage 1-4.
B- Barber 3-84, Fountain 2-59, TD; Stevens 4-38, TD.