A fumble one moment, a long pass play on the other -- such are the things on which a football season can turn.
Fayetteville-Manlius had put itself in good position to take the lead in last Saturday night's game against Liverpool at Solvay's Earl Hadley Stadium, a game the Hornets had to win in order to make the Section III Class AA playoffs.
But that fumble-long pass sequence, done in a span of two minutes, ignited a run of 35 unanswered points by the Warriors that proved decisive as Liverpool ultimately prevailed 43-30, sending F-M to the crossover realm.
As both teams came to "The Pit", they did so with varying degrees of importance attached to the game. Cicero-North Syracuse's 27-7 loss to West Genesee the night before had clinched for Liverpool a playoff berth. All that was at stake was to see if it would visit Baldwinsville or Henninger in the opening round.
For F-M, it was more consequential. Once 0-4 after a brutal opening schedule against opponents that went a combined 23-5 in the regular season, the Hornets had stunned West Genesee and rolled past Utica Proctor to give itself a chance at the playoffs.
Liverpool spent the entire first quarter in F-M territory, three times starting drives inside the 50-yard line with a chance to quickly put it away.
Yet all it managed was one touchdown, on a 32-yard slant pass from Tyler Kamide to Justin Albro, with Jesse Gates catching a two-point pass from Kamide after an extra-point snap got botched.
Somehow F-M weathered all this and, early in the second quarter, drew even. Matt Fallico's 28-yard run set up a fourth down at the Warriors' 11 where T.J. Earley rolled out, threw a short pass to Matt Taylor, and watched Taylor bowl over two defenders to find the end zone. Taylor also ran in for two points to tie it, 8-8.