If it was judged strictly on entertainment value, then the Bishop Ludden football team would already be making post-season plans.
However, since wins and losses count, the Gaelic Knights may find itself looking at the Section III Class C playoffs from the outside, despite a glorious effort in last Friday's 36-28 loss to the Hannibal Warriors.
As it stands right now, Ludden is tied for third place in Class C West with Tully, each at 3-2. Only the top two teams in the league (Hannibal and Canastota at this point) are guaranteed playoff berths, with the third-place finisher likely to get a wild-card berth. Tully beat Ludden, 28-26, on Sept. 8, and would have the tiebreaker.
None of this would have mattered had the Gaelic Knights been able to topple undefeated Hannibal in one of the season's most riveting games.
Right up to the end, the Gaelic Knights had a chance to force overtime, driving inside the Warriors' 10-yard line in the last seconds of regulation. But when Daquan Grobsmith was stopped by Eric Sherman on an option run, Hannibal had held on.
Ludden had lots of early success throwing against the Warriors' secondary. Down 8-0 in the first quarter, the Gaelic Knights tied it on Connor Sweeney's eight-yard touchdown pass to George Eunice, then went ahead when Sweeney hit Eunice again on a deep 55-yard connection.
Known as a running team, Hannibal changed it up when, just before halftime, Doug Morgan hit Jordan Hoyt for an 18-yard TD play. Morgan ran it in for two points, and the Warriors took a 16-15 lead to the break.
A wild third quarter followed. Hannibal built its lead to 22-15 on Morgan's 43-yard TD strike to Barry Afton, but Wendall Williams brought the Ludden Homecoming crowd to its feet by returning the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for his own touchdown.
Yet another exchange of TD's followed, Grobsmith scoring from six yards out to slash Hannibal's edge to 30-28. For the night, Grobsmith had 135 yards.
Even though Hannibal scored in the fourth quarter to build the lead back to eight, Ludden had two chances to tie it. Sweeney was intercepted once, and Grobsmith was stopped at game's end.
At 3-2, Ludden will need both of its remaining games, starting with Friday's contest at Cato-Meridian (2-3), which starts at 7 p.m.