Through three kinds of rain and two different comebacks, the Cicero-North Syracuse football team nearly fought its way past Henninger in last Saturday's Section III Class AA opening-round game at Sunnycrest Field.
But a missed two-point conversion in the final seconds proved to be the difference as the Northstars fell to the Black Knights 24-22 and suffered its fourth consecutive defeat.
Once down 16-3, the Northstars rallied to tie it, then fell behind again in the fourth quarter before making one last thrust, fueled by a big play on special teams.
Keenan Williams blocked Kihary Blue's punt with 3:17 to play and CNS, down 24-16, had a glorious chance to pull even. It worked the ball to Henninger's one-yard line in the final minute, only to get stuffed on three running attempts to get the ball in the end zone.
On fourth-and-goal from the three-yard line, CNS called its last time-out. It decided to throw, and with Ryan Lacey getting ample time to throw from his offensive line, he faked two different ways, then found Austin Hyde in the end zone with 14.6 seconds left to pull the Northstars within two.
With no choice but to go for two points and the tie, CNS tried the same play again. However, the Black Knights blitzed Lacey, forcing him to throw early and to the left -- and the ball just eluded Tom Padula in the back of the end zone.
When Shaquille Leggett secured the ensuing onside kick, the Northstars' valiant effort had come up short. It had been quite an adventure.
Finally back at full strength with Chad Dubiel's return from an injury, CNS started the game in windy, wet conditions and struggled to get anything moving against Henninger's defense, only getting Andrew Falvey's 33-yard field goal.
Meanwhile, Henninger struck twice. Blue threw a 39-yard TD pass to Chris Gainey in the first quarter, and Greg Spears got crunching blocks on a 61-yard sprint to the end zone in the second period, part of a day where he ran 29 times for 158 yards.