As Phoenix kicker Andrew Compeau belted the ball through the uprights last Friday night, the Marcellus football team saw its 2007 opener end in a painful, one-point overtime defeat.
But the kick didn't count.
Just before the snap, Mustangs head coach Joe Goss signaled for -- and received - a time-out. So instead of a celebration, the Firebirds stewed and waited at what was clearly a Marcellus attempt to "freeze" Compeau before the most important kick of the night.
Sure enough, when play resumed, Compeau hooked the extra point wide. Given new life, the Mustangs took it to double overtime and pulled it out, 34-33, overcoming both the Firebirds's 14-point halftime lead, as well as a magnificent night from running back Paul Raymond.
Raymond had all five of the Firebirds' touchdowns. Three of them came in the first half, including an 80-yard epic that followed up the Mustangs' lone points of the half, an eight-yard TD pass from Will Fiacchi to Jeff Watson.
Trailing 21-7 at the break, the Mustangs knew it had to somehow contain Raymond, plus find gaps in the Phoenix defense so that Fiacchi, making his long-anticipated starting debut, could find open receivers.
Fiacchi answered like a poised veteran, erasing the Firebirds' lead in the third quarter. He went back to Watson for one TD, a 12-yard strike, and on the Mustangs' next possession, Watson was covered, so Fiacchi found Derek Belvito for a 10-yard scoring strike that, with Matt Weeks' extra point, tied the game 21-21.
Throughout a tense fourth quarter, both teams had chances to break the tie, but could not. So it went to overtime, where each side gets possession at the opponents' 20-yard line.
Having lost the toss, Marcellus went first. Fiacchi drove his team to the five-yard line, then connected with Watson for a third time to give the Mustangs a 27-21 lead. This time, Weeks' extra point sailed off target.