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Henninger, Corcoran survive playoff classics

In one incredible Friday night of action and high emotion, the Corcoran and Henninger football teams went from glory to disaster, then back to glory, all within short spans.

And when it was all was done, the Cougars and Black Knights had made it through their respective crises to within one step of a possible all-city Section III Class AA final in the Carrier Dome on Nov. 7.

Corcoran went first in the drama department, requiring two tense overtimes and two big field goal blocks on its home turf to get past Cicero-North Syracuse 27-21.

Across town, in the Carrier Dome, Henninger blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead, then somehow regrouped for a game-winning drive to stun Liverpool 40-36.

Just to reach the playoffs, Henninger had to beat Auburn and Utica Proctor down the stretch. So the challenge of 6-1 Liverpool did not bother the Black Knights in any way.

In fact, before the Warriors knew what hit them, Henninger had an 18-0 lead. Cole King was the catalyst, returning a Cam Jones interception 46 yards for one touchdown, then catching a 44-yard pass from Shawn Bryant for another.

Though Liverpool pulled back within 18-14 early in the third quarter when Dion Dyer returned a fumble 30 yards for a TD, Henninger appeared to get away again when Bryant threw a 19-yard scoring pass to Richard Neal and Langston Lamber added another TD on a one-yard plunge.

So it was 32-14 going into the fourth quarter, where Liverpool nearly pulled off a miracle after Jones threw a deep pass that Ethan VanMarter turned into a 44-yard TD play to make it 32-22.

In short, the Black Knights' special teams had a complete breakdown. Mike Donitzen blocked a punt that Derek Eason returned for a TD with 9:27 to play, and though Jimmy Wright missed the PAT, the margin was down to 32-28.

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