All kinds of new challenges were thrust upon the Cazenovia football team in the course of last Saturday's Class B West first-place showdown with Holland Patent at Buckley-Volo Field.
A long and proud streak of defensive resistance was gone, and the game was in doubt in the third quarter, something Laker fans were not used to seeing.
However, Cazenovia was prepared for it -- and with two big runs from Chris Nourse, the Lakers survived the Golden Knights' challenge and earned a comfortable 34-14 victory to move to 4-0 on the season.
Like so many times in recent years, Cazenovia began with a desire to end things early, as it scored on Coleman Koesterer's 15-yard touchdown pass to Ben Dewan and, through its defense, pinned HP on its own three-yard line late in the period.
Poised to start the inevitable rout, the Lakers instead got a seismic jolt.
Going back deep, Golden Knights Jared Keyte threw from his end zone -- and found Kris Burger, who took it the rest of the way, a 97-yard coast-to-coast journey to the end zone that did more that put HP in front 7-6.
It was the first time since the Lakers' loss to Homer in the 2005 Section III Class B final that its first-string defense had allowed a touchdown, a streak that had grown to more than 15 games. For a team accustomed to having its way all the time, it was an early character test.
And in the second quarter, Cazenovia passed that examination. It put together a pair of long scoring drives to retake the lead, as Nourse finished off one drive with a one-yard TD run and Tom Groetz went 15 yards for his own TD.
Ahead 20-7 at the break, the Lakers' first string had to see long playing time for the first time this fall. And at first, that proved to be trouble, as HP drove deep into Cazenovia territory and scored when Keyte hit Kevin Quesnell from 10 yards out to make it 20-14.