Anyone who doubts that sports can turn into an emotional roller-coaster obviously did not attend last Friday night's football game at Alibrandi Stadium between West Genesee and Christian Brothers Academy.
In a span of minutes, the Wildcats were despairing defeat, then flushed with joy over a dramatic win, then deflated by a last-second tying score, and finally triumphant.
The final verdict, a 24-21 overtime victory, does not begin to convey the wild mood swings that went with WG (5-1, 3-1 league) securing a Section III Class AA playoff berth and a chance to win the Class AA-1 division championship at Cicero-North Syracuse this Friday at 7 p.m.
In fact, for a while, it was simply the case of the Wildcats, perhaps too confident after its 26-0 shutout of Fayetteville-Manlius a week earlier, letting down against a CBA squad hampered all season by injuries and inexperience at so many key spots.
Clearly showing more effort than the visitors, the Brothers bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a scoring drive ended by Garrett Barnard's one-yard plunge into the end zone.
That seemed to wake up the Wildcats, for it rebounded in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead. Ben Waldron ran nine yards for one touchdown, and Tim Moran threw a four-yard scoring pass to George Eunice.
Far removed from the explosive offense shown in previous years when Greg Paulus or Mike Paulus was at quarterback, CBA had to make up for it with toughness, which it showed on both sides of the ball for much of the second half.
A long drive led to Barnard's second TD, a two-yard run, in the third quarter, that tied it at 14-14, and no matter what Moran and his teammates tried, WG found itself shut down for the rest of regulation.