Down by 11 points, on the road, to a team ranked in the state Class AA top 10 and about to face a stiff 30 mile-per-hour wind in the fourth quarter, the Christian Brothers Academy football team found itself in the unfamiliar role of underdog to a confident, mature opponent.
Despite all of those handicaps, though, the Brothers came out on top -- and in the process, might have regained its old swagger.
CBA staged this remarkable comeback last Friday night, at Fayetteville-Manlius, partially avenging last year's bitter first-round playoff defeat to the Hornets by staying calm in adverse conditions and rallying for a 31-21 victory.
If the Brothers go on to any kind of championship glory this fall, it might look back to the final 14 minutes at F-M as the moment where a young team, unsure of its own capabilities, grew up and took charge.
This sequence began with CBA down, 21-10. It had just watched F-M drive 80 yards, into that stiff wind, using nothing but running plays to wear down the Brothers' defense. When Austin Straub found the end zone from three yards out with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, CBA looked to be done.
In truth, the Brothers had held on all night, aided by a pair of David Marx interceptions and a long string of F-M penalties that negated big gains and likely kept more points off the board.
CBA had gone in front, 7-0, in the first quarter after Marx first picked off a Buddy Leathley pass deep in his own territory. The Brothers marched 75 yards, mixing solid runs with short passes, as Jared DePalma hit Marcus Sales on a 12-yard TD pass up the middle.
However, F-M went in front 14-7 in the second period, mostly relying on its diverse ground game and a size advantage on the offensive line to pile up yards.