GROTON -- Chenango Forks ground out 264 yards rushing and its defense pitched a shutout in its season-opening 21-0 victory over Groton on Friday night.
Groton hung with Chenango Forks, winner of seven of the last eight Section 4 Class B titles, for the first half, but the Blue Devils figured out a way to stop Groton's rushing attack after halftime, holding the Indians to 20 second-half yards on the ground.
The game's big play came when Chenango Forks defensive end Mike Szymkowicz got into Groton's backfield and picked off Isaiah Young's swing pass and took it 71 yards for a touchdown to put the Blue Devils up 7-0.
"I was following the running back like I was supposed to," Szymkowicz said. "The ball went to me and I just ran all the way down."
Groton's Ethan Tillebein finished with 73 yards rushing but most of his yardage came on two big plays -- a 39-yard run in the first half and a 29-yard second-half run.
"They made good adjustments at halftime and their kids came to play ball," Groton coach Jeff Lewis said. "They're a good program. There's a reason why they won seven of the past eight sectional titles."
In the third quarter, Groton blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt by Rickey Bronson and it looked like momentum was swinging the Indians' way. But on the ensuing possession, Groton went three and out and Chenango Forks iced the game on its next possession -- an 80-yard drive, capped by Jimmy Miller's 12-yard touchdown run.
After Chenango Forks' D.J. Smith intercepted a pass by Young, the Blue Devils' Ryan Lusht punched in a touchdown with a six-yard run up the middle.
"We'll watch the film to see what we did wrong," Tillebein said. "Then we'll get back and ready to play in our division."