Going under the lights for the first time at home, the Morrisville-Eaton football team picked just the right opponent for the occasion -- namely, its neighbors from Hamilton in the annual "Jug Game" between the two bitter rivals.
The celebration soon turned into a wet, muddy mess, with neither team getting on the board until the fourth quarter -- where a single field goal made the difference as the Warriors beat the Emerald Knights 3-0, and got to keep possession of the Jug.
Benjamin Thomas was responsible for that kick, a 28-yarder with 3:48 to play in regulation that found its way through the uprights in the fourth quarter following a long night of struggle from both sides.
Coming in, neither team had put up a point in the 2008 season -- M-E shut out by Weedsport in its Sept. 5 opener, Hamilton given the same treatment by Watertown IHC.
And neither was going to find it too easy here, either. A day-long rain transformed M-E's home field into a bog, and for a pair of teams struggling to find their offensive rhythm, that did not bode well.
All through the first half, the Warriors and Emerald Knights took their turns with the ball, but didn't move it much as the game remained scoreless.
So it continued into the third quarter. True, each side was forced to be more conservative by the conditions, but solid defensive performances insured that a single play, or single drive, would turn it around.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, M-E running back Dalton Villnave took charge.
Plowing his way through the Hamilton defense and the sloppy conditions, Villnave carried the ball four times, piling up 52 yards as the Warriors drove to the Emerald Knights' 11-yard line.
There, the drive stalled, but on fourth down Thomas was ready. He dug one foot into the ground and used the other to blast the field goal that would be the only points either side could muster.
Now at 1-1 on the season and with the Jug safely in its possession, M-E stays at home Friday -- but must face two-time defending Section III Class D champion Onondaga at 7 p.m. Even with star running back Latavius Murray departed, the Tigers have started 2-0, outscoring its opponents 87-12.
As for Hamilton, it will seek its first points of the season Friday in its home opener against Weedsport (1-1), who is coming off a 14-0 loss to Watertown IHC.