If the point of football is to make it as exciting and nerve-jangling as humanly possible, the Fayetteville-Manlius Hornets are fulfilling its duty.
For the second week in the row, the Hornets looked into the abyss of possible elimination and did not blink, instead rescuing itself and beating Corcoran 22-15 in last Friday's opening round of the Section III Class AA playoffs.
And just like F-M's 29-28 win over Liverpool a week earlier, where a bold decision to go for two points moved the Hornets into the playoffs, a single play call would keep the team's title dreams alive.
F-M had seen a 15-3 lead disappear, the last blow coming when Billy Donlon's punt was blocked late in the fourth quarter, leading to Henry Bradley's five-yard touchdown run with 54 seconds left that tied the game 15-15.
Fortunately for the Hornets, James Cathers' possible go-ahead extra point hooked wide left, and on the sidelines, F-M quarterback Buddy Leathley was preparing for the next step.
"We knew we still had a good chance," he said.
Given the benefit of a short kickoff, the Hornets took over at its own 45-yard line. Two short runs followed, and on third down, Leathley found Shane Bush for an 11-yard gain, Bush picking the ball up just before it hit the turf.
After spiking the ball to stop the clock, F-M still had one time-out left, and plenty of time to pick up more yards for a possible game-winning field goal.
But Leathley and head coach Paul Muench had something else in mind. Figuring Corcoran would defend another short pass to Bush over the middle, they elected to go deep.
Leathley went back, looked short, then threw long. Mike Rosenbaum sneaked behind the secondary and, by the time the Cougars defenders picked him up, Rosenbaum had the ball in the end zone, a 39-yard touchdown play with 22.4 seconds left.