They are still alive.
And for that, the Cicero-North Syracuse football team can thank junior running back Laquan James, whose career performance helped the Northstars come from behind last Friday night to beat Baldwinsville, 37-27, at Pelcher-Arcaro Stadium.
That victory, combined with Auburn's loss to CBA and Liverpool's epochal double-overtime win over Corcoran, put CNS in a three-way tie for third place with the Maroons and Cougars, all with 3-3 league marks.
Based on the tie-breaker of first-half point differential, Corcoran came out in front, with CNS second. That means both teams were in the playoffs, and Auburn, despite a winning record (4-3), was out.
Going in, CNS knew the math. Whatever else might take place, the Northstars had to subdue the winless (0-6) Bees, or its playoff chances were gone, and Auburn and Corcoran would back into the tournament.
And the opposition was fired up. Determined to play the role of spoiler, B'ville welcomed back quarterback Jeremy Boltus from missing three games with an injury, and his presence seemed to give the rest of the team a jolt of confidence.
Combine that with some early CNS struggles, and the Bees took a 13-3 lead to halftime, Mitch Collins getting both of B'ville's touchdowns on short runs to counter Jamie Praino's 21-yard field goal.
Desperate for a spark, the Northstars got it when it started forcing turnovers in the third quarter, leading to a run of 21 unanswered points.
At first, Greg Larioni got the Northstars into the end zone, finding Jeff Falvey on a 25-yard TD completion. Then, James took over.
From his own 30-yard line, James took a handoff, then sped right through the B'ville defenders and was never caught, a 70-yard touchdown dash that put the Northstars ahead for good.
By the end of the third quarter, James had scored again, on a six-yard run, and CNS had a 24-13 lead.