Disappointed by playoff exits from the previous weekend, the Chittenango and Canastota football team both aimed to finish the season on a high note.
In their head-to-head collision on Thursday night, the Bears overcame a nine-point deficit and, behind the strong running of Kyle Mills, beat the Raiders 21-16.
Chittenango, in particular, fumed at how Solvay had shocked them 28-21 six days earlier, and the defense wasted little time getting on the board. On the game's second play, Cavanaugh Chiares intercepted Zack Zupan's option pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
Shaking that off, the Raiders promptly scored on its next possession, Bill Marsh throwing a 19-yard TD pass to Jeff Merrell. During that drive, Jake LaBarre surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, though he would struggle for gains all night and finish with 52 yards on 11 carries.
Again, the Raiders' passing game came through in the second quarter, as Marsh, facing a blitz, threw deep and found James Mason for a 72-yard completion, setting up Marsh's own one-yard TD plunge on fourth-and-goal. Zupan's second two-point run of the night helped Canastota take a 16-7 lead to the half.
Now it was the Bears' defense that stepped up, igniting the comeback when, on the Raiders' first possession of the third quarter, James Swagler recovered a Sam Stagnitti fumble.
Then Chittenango went to the ground, turning to Mills on a short drive as he scored on a 15-yard run to make it 16-14.
So it remained until early in the fourth quarter, when Mills churned out a good portion of his 125 yards (on 19 carries) to set up a five-yard touchdown run with 10:16 left. From there, the Bears took over on the defensive side, not letting Canastota get close to a go-ahead score. Both teams finished with 5-4 overall records.