In last seasons’ opener for the Beechwood Tigers, they came away with a 28-0 victory over the Simon Kenton Pioneers. New season, different result as the Pioneers improved to 2-0 with a 21-17 win at Simon Kenton’s Chlorine B. Menefee Stadium in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
Playing without RB/LB Max Nussbaum, Coach Noel Rash (Beechwood) knew his team needed someone to step up and fill a huge void left on both sides of the ball.
The first quarter started off slow for the Tigers as they went 3 – and – out but the defense stood tall. After Jared Swanson returned the Jack Talley punt 23 yards to give the Pioneers great field position, the Tigers bent but did not break.
The duo of QB Brenan Kuntz and RB Andrew Sampson used their legs to get the Pioneers down to the Beechwood 11, but on 4th and 4, Gage Erdman came around the left side to block a Tyler Smith 21 yard field goal attempt.
The two teams would trade offensive possessions but neither could muster any sort of offense. With time winding down in the first quarter, Beechwood drove down to the SK 7 yard line but couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for a Miles Sletto 17 yard field goal with 1:14 left in the first quarter.
The teams combined for just 108 yards in the first quarter but things would pick up.
At the start of the second quarter Simon Kenton dropped the snap on a punt attempt and Beechwood would take over at the SK 11 yard line. Much like the Tigers had done in the first quarter, however, the Pioneer defense stood tall. On 4th and 4, attempting a 20 yard field goal, the Pioneers blocked the Sletto FG and the march was on.
Andrew Samspon started the drive off with a 22 yard run. Two plays later, Kuntz found senior TE Brad Franzen for a 20 yard gain across the middle. A few plays later, Kuntz once again found a receiver wide open…this time a Kuntz to Wassom 28 yard connection to put the Neers on the board and give them a 7-3 lead with 6:37 remaining til the half.
Beechwood would then show why they are annually one of the best teams in the state for Class A football. After a short return on the kickoff, QB Cameron Lane found senior TE Chris Lightner for a 67 yard catch and run TD to give the Tigers the lead right back just 15 seconds later. 10-7 Tigers.
After a touchback on the kick and defensive stop by Beechwood, the offense would strike again.
Back-up QB Jason Suchanek called his own number for a 44 yard run down the sideline. On the next play, Lane found his sophomore TE, Jonathon Stokes, for a 10 yard catch and Gage Erdman would take the next handoff right up the middle for an 18 yard TD run with two minutes left in the half to put the Tigers up 17-7.
At the half, Beechwood had outgained the Pioneers 245-164 on offense. Coach Marksberry had confidence in his team though and kept telling his team to just worry about the next play.
Simon Kenton wasn’t ready to lay down. On the opening kickoff of the second half, junior DB Jared Swanson went 90 yards for a touchdown and make it 17-14 just 13 seconds in.
“Coach came in the locker room and said it was most important to come out and get that first score.” Swanson said when describing the kick-off. “I’ve been waiting for a kick return all summer long and he (Marksberry) finally gave me one and I finally busted one out.”
This would be the only score of the third quarter, however, as both defenses really stepped up.
The Pioneers started the 4th quarter on the Beechwood 22 and it didn’t take long for them to get the scoring going once again as Andrew Sampson scampered 22 yards for a TD on the first play of the quarter to give the Neers the lead back at 21-17 at the 11:55 mark.
Gage Erdman gave the Tigers good field position on their next drive, bringing the kickoff out to the 40. After a 10 yard Lane to Mitch Thomas completion to put the Tigers in SK territory, the Pioneers defensive captain, Jared Bowling came up with a big sack to put the Tigers in a 3rd and 15 situation. On the very next play, senior Drew Harris came up with an interception to halt the Beechwood drive.
The Pioneers would drive down to the Beechwood 20 after a 24 yard Kuntz to Wassom pick up, but penalties would plague the Pioneer offense. A block in the back forced them back to the 30 and then on 3rd and 3 a false start would push them back to the 38. Jack Talley then came up with a huge sack to force a punt with six minutes remaining, giving the Tigers another offensive opportunity to try and regain the lead.
The Pioneers backed the Tigers all the way up to the 10 but Coach Noel Rash rolled the dice from his own 10, as Erdman faked the punt and took it around the right side for a 21 yard pick up and keep the Tigers drive going.
With 2:53 remaining the Tigers crossed in to SK territory after an 8 yard Erdman run. The Tigers couldn’t capitalize though as Cameron Lane fumbled on the very next play with 2:01 remaining after a 20 yard pick up.
SK had just enough offense to run the clock down to 8 seconds and then punt to give the Tigers the ball back with 2.9 seconds. Lane’s pass fell incomplete across the middle and the celebration was on for the SK Pioneers and their fans.
Star of the game, Jared Swanson’s take on the W??
“This is a heck of a win for us. We have great leaders on this team and we pick each other up. We just have to keep coming out and go 1-0 each week.”
Skyline Chili Crosstown Players of the Game:
Simon Kenton: Jared Swanson
Beechwood: Gage Erdman
Beechwood - 326 yards; Simon Kenton: 297 yards
Passing: Beechwood 154; Simon Kenton 126
Rushing: Beechwood 172; Simon Kenton 171
Gage Erdman 19 rushes for 80 yards
Camerson Lane 7-14 passing for 154 yards
Andrew Sampson 23 rushes for 114 yards
Brenan Kuntz 8-14 passing for 126 yards
Beechwood (1-0) will host Holmes next week.
Simon Kenton (1-1) will host Pulaski County.