SYRACUSE A tough opponent, a hostile venue, a live television audience - all of these factors greeted the Skaneateles football team as it ventured to Bishop Ludden on Friday night.
And while it was far from a smooth or pretty effort, the Lakers were all too happy to leave Ludden with a 26-12 victory and a 3-1 overall record.
More importantly, Skaneateles is 3-0 in the Class C West division, sharing first place with Syracuse's Institute of Technology Central as the two sides are hurtling toward an Oct. 11 showdown at Hyatt Stadium that will likely decide the league title.
Each of the last two years, it was the Gaelic Knights that gave the Lakers as much trouble as anyone in C West, including a pair of 2012 meetings where Skaneateles had to come from behind to win the season opener, and then top Ludden again in the Section III Class C-1 title game nearly two months later.
Stakes were slightly smaller here, but the Lakers still found itself in trouble early, unable to generate any sort of chances against Ludden's defense.
Worse yet, the Gaelic Knights struck a big play to go in front 6-0, Conlan McGuire throwing deep and finding Cameron Beauford for a 70-yard touchdown before the extra point was missed.
It took until the second quarter for Skaneateles to get on the board. Devin Callahan, making his second consecutive start at quarterback in place of the injured Tyler Parr, mixed things up in the first scoring drive that led to Cameron Mercado's three-yard TD run and Colin Alexander's go-ahead PAT.
Leading 7-6, the Lakers drove again, and when Callahan threw downfield and found Connor Hill for a 35-yard scoring pass, that, plus Alexander's PAT, gave Skaneateles a 14-6 lead.
Ludden wasn't done with big plays, though, as Donovan Card broke loose through the Laker secondary on a 65-yard sprint to the end zone. When the tying two-point try was stopped, Skaneateles was still in front, 14-12, going to halftime.