Facing its second consecutive first-round exit from the Section III Class B playoffs, Will Fiacchi and the Marcellus football team refused to let things end.
Instead, Fiacchi's Mustangs mounted a long, coast-to-coast march in the final minutes of last Saturday's opening-round game at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, and converted on it to produce a 19-14 victory over the Red Devils and the team's first trip to the semifinal round in seven years.
Here was a contest where each side went to their strengths -- Marcellus to its fluent passing attack, V-V-S to its ground game.
The intent was clear, especially on the Red Devils' side. V-V-S had seen how Solvay, a week earlier, had worn down Marcellus with long scoring drives where the Bearcats almost exclusively stayed on the ground.
Thus, when it had the ball, the Red Devils gave it to running back Mike Jones, who accounted for most of the gains on two long scoring drives that helped negate Fiacchi's 10-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Watson in the first quarter.
Jones would finish both drives with touchdowns, on short runs of five and two yards, and at halftime, Marcellus found itself staring at a 14-7 deficit.
Sticking to its passing attack, the Mustangs put together a third-quarter drive that ended with Mark Rudy going two yards for the TD. But when Matt Weeks missed the extra point, Marcellus found itself down 14-13 going into the final period.
V-V-S continued to go to Jones, as he piled up 260 yards on 32 carries. But the Mustangs' defense made key stops throughout the second half when it counted, keeping the Red Devils off the board.
As time began to wind down, Marcellus got the ball at its own 10-yard line. Much as he had prepared for this moment, Fiacchi still faced the biggest pressure moment of his career.