Sep 11, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
In a battle for first place in the Class A American division, East Syracuse-Minoa hosted Fulton. The temperature was a record high 94 degrees, but it did not stop the animated fans from packing Spartan Stadium to full capacity.
It proved to be an exciting and emotionally charged performance where the lead swung back and forth throughout the game. ESM rallied late in the fourth quarter, then held on to beat the Red Raiders 34-33.
Both were coming off opening wins. ESM had an impressive debut Aug. 31, pummeling Oswego 40-12, while Fulton topped Jamesville-DeWitt 40-12 behind an explosive running attack that piled up more than 300 yards.
Here, the offenses would shine again. ESM senior running back Matt Cushing led his side with 258 yards and two touchdowns, and got high praise from head coach Kevin DeParde.
Matt Cushing’s performance was outstanding,” said DeParde. “He gets better as the game goes on. He is so strong like a bull and deceptively fast.”
Fulton’s sophomore D.J. Ingham had 13 carries for 132 yards, and his scoring would allow the Raiders to keep pace much of the way.
In the first quarter the Red Raiders grabbed a 13-7 advantage. After ESM quarterback Mick Lechter plunged into the end zone for a one-yard score, Fulton scored twice.
The Raiders took advantage of Vinny Martinez’s 56-yard kickoff return as, on the next play, running back Mike Clark went 35 yards for the touchdown.
Later in the period, Letcher, pressured by three Red Raiders defenders, threw a costly interception. Ingham picked it off, then returned it 44 yards down the right side line for the TD to put Fulton in front.
The second quarter witnessed ESM’s offensive line wearing down Fulton’s front seven players Cushing exploded for a 56-yard gain that set up Letcher’s second TD, a seven-yard run. With Dustin Moss’ extra point, the Spartans regained the lead 14-13.
With 3:17 remaining in the half, ESM recovered a fumble stripped away from running back David Williams at the 35-yard line. Three plays later, Cushing out-maneuvered Fulton’s secondary defenders for a 20-yard run into the end zone. ESM led at the break, 21-13.
In the third quarter Fulton capitalized on a rushing strategy and went back in front, scoring two touchdowns. Running back Edison Marsh scored both times, first on a 35 yard run and then on a five-yard run, to put his team up 27-21.
And it would continue to go back and forth in the final period. ESM’s Corey Gerace scored on a two yard run, only to have Fulton go back in front 33-27 when Ingham got his third TD, from two yards out.
Kyle Johnson and Gerace made clutch receptions on Letcher’s passes in the final minutes of the game, part of an 80-yard march. Cushing sealed the drive with a seven-yard run, diving into the end zone with 43.8 seconds left.
Even with that, it wasn’t over. Fulton quarterback Mike Clark threw deep as time ran out, and the pass was caught — but Fulton fell four yards short of the end zone, and the Spartans held on.
“We were very fortunate to win,” said DeParde. “We have lost 11 starting players on defense. Our defense is as green as the grass and it shows. The defense needs to be persistent, keep persevering, and deal with adversity.”
Fortune or not, the Spartans are in first place, just like 2006, and can stay there if it beats Chittenango Friday at 6:30 at Spartan Stadium. The Bears are 1-1, having beaten Cortland and taken a last-second loss to Fulton.