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.