A full year of sweat and sacrifice -- and it all came down to a single decision.
Here was the Fayetteville-Manlius football team, fighting back from a 14-point deficit against the Liverpool Warriors last Friday night and scoring a touchdown in the final 30 seconds to pull within one.
Most teams, in this situation, would settle for the extra point and play for overtime. But F-M head coach Paul Muench decided to go for two -- and when the Hornets made it, it had a 29-28 victory and a ticket to the Section III Class AA playoffs.
Muench said he had no idea just how much was at stake with that call. No one had told him that CBA had beaten Utica Proctor 48-6, creating the scenario where a defeat would take the Hornets out of the playoffs.
As the night began, F-M and Liverpool were tied for third place in the Class AA-1 league. CBA was one game back, tied for fifth. If the Hornets lost and the Brothers won, CBA's 31-21 win over F-M on Sept. 14 would serve as the tie-breaker.
Add this pressure-filled situation to the pomp and circumstance of Homecoming and the high emotions of Senior Night, and it created a boiling cauldron that, for a time, threatened to overwhelm the Hornets' dreams.
All was fine on the opening drive, though, as the Hornets used a series of short Buddy Leathley screen passes to get down to the three-yard line, from where Austin Straub scored to put the Hornets in front 7-0.
It didn't take long for Liverpool to respond. A long march late in the first quarter culminated with Dom Caruso going 15 yards through three F-M tackles to the end zone. Quarterback Tyler Kamide ran in for two points.
Down 8-7, F-M stalled in the second quarter in the face of Liverpool's pass rush and ability to contain the potent Hornet running game.