Though most of Section III football was awash in high-scoring affairs on the opening Friday night of the 2007 season, Chittenango made an exception.
Defense carried the Bears through most of its opening game against Cortland, and it remained strong right to the end of a 15-8 win over the Purple Tigers.
In its first game under new head coach Dave Darrow, Cortland got itself into trouble early as Chittenango's Justin Pistello produced a first-quarter safety. Combined with Jon Stevens' 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Shaun St. Onge, the Bears gained an 8-0 lead.
Cortland did not make it last long, though, as in the second period, Brandon Fitzgerald ran 40 yards for a TD and caught a two-point pass from A.J. Meldrum to tie it, 8-0.
So it remained, for a while. Each side settled down on defense as the deadlock held until the fourth quarter, each possession becoming more valuable.
Chittenango chewed up time behind Kyle Mills, a sophomore running back who made his first varsity start a great one, gaining 122 yards on 22 carries -- nothing fancy, but quite effective.
Mills's runs put the Bears in position at the 15-yard line in the fourth quarter. From there, Stevens went to the end zone and found Andy Moth, a TD strike that proved to be the game-winner as Cortland could not respond.
The Bears look for two in a row Friday, at 4 p.m., when it plays at Fowler. The Falcons' '07 season began with a 42-14 loss to Mexico.