BEAVER FALLS — Beaver River’s football team got off to an encouraging start when Carson Peters returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter for an early lead.
But credit Onondaga, led by sophomore Gabron Polk, for grinding out a solid effort on the road to record its first win of the season.
Polk scored a rushing touchdown and then intercepted a pass for a touchdown to propel the Tigers to a 26-6 win over the Beavers in a Section 3 Class D North-West Division game.
“They controlled the line of scrimmage and they were way more physical than we were, for sure,” Beaver River coach Matt Lyndaker said of Onondaga.
The two-hour ride from south of Syracuse proved to be worth the trip for Onondaga (1-2, 1-0), which won its division season opener.
“Absolutely, it was a nice win for us on the road,” Onondaga coach Steve Louis said. “We’ve been struggling the last couple weeks, there’s been stuff going on, logistical stuff, kids being sick, kids away on trips.
“Everybody finally came back together and we had a solid week of practice — and it showed tonight. I’m proud of them tonight, honestly.”
Beaver River (1-2, 0-1) seized the early advantage when Peters, a junior linebacker, stepped in front of pass and returned the interception for a 35-yard touchdown with 8:45 left in the second quarter.
“That was huge, it got us going,” Lyndaker said of Peters’ interception. “And I think we gave it back to them not long after that.
“Turnovers hurt and we put ourselves in a third-and-long and even at third-and-short, we still couldn’t execute. It’s tough to win games like that.”
But Onondaga responded quickly as on the first play of its next possession, quarterback Will’zarrion Jones broke free for a 55-yard scoring run and after the conversion the Tigers led 8-6.
Jones struck again in the third quarter as he burst free on a nine-yard scoring run to lead 14-6 with 5:14 remaining.
After Beaver River turned the ball over on downs on its next possession at its own 42-yard line, five plays later Polk sprinted down the middle to score his own nine-yard touchdown for a 20-6 advantage with 11:56 left in the game.
But on the Beavers’ very next play from scrimmage, Polk stepped in front of a pass for an interception and returned the ball 36 yards for a score and a 26-6 edge for the Tigers.
“It’s a great win and that was a game changer right there,” Polk said of returning his interception for a score. “It feels great, definitely defensively we turned it up.”
“That was a big swing for them,” Lyndaker said. “And I thought we had some momentum and then they just took it right back from us.”
Jones ran for 113 yards on 10 carries to lead Onondaga on the ground and Polk totaled 72 rushing yards on 19 touches.
“He’s a heck of a ball player, man, he’s so fast, he’s deceptively fast,” Louis said of Polk. “He was running the ball awesome, too, he was hitting the holes so fast, but that pick-six really kind of shut everything down and kind of sealed it.”
The Beavers struggled offensively in their first division game of the season as they generated only 123 yards from scrimmage against the Tigers.
Senior quarterback Jonah Mullin led the way by completing nine of 25 passes for 73 yards.
Junior running back Gavin Fowler paced the Beavers on the ground with 35 yards on 16 carries.
“We just couldn’t really get much going, it’s kind of frustrating for play calling and stuff,” Lyndaker said. “It was tough.”
Beaver River, which opened its season with a 16-0 road loss to Bainbridge-Guilford of Section 4 on Sept. 10, rebounded to defeat Oswego, 22-8, last Friday, also a nonleague game.
“Honestly I feel we may have underestimated them a little bit and were maybe a little overconfident I guess,” Lyndaker said of Onondaga. “But we’re a young group and I think that inexperience kind of showed tonight.”
Beaver River will look to bounce back when it plays at rival Sandy Creek at 7 p.m. Thursday in a division game.
“It’s just on to the next week, we’ve got learn from this one,” Lyndaker said. “Now it’s about getting ready for Sandy Creek on a short week.”