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Ludden comes back, survives Canastota

Form appeared to dictate that the Bishop Ludden football team, winners of 21 of its last 22 games, would go to Canastota Friday night, earn a typically impressive win, and move along in its quest to regain the Class C throne.

The Raiders, as it turned out, didn't care one bit about the form - or how it was supposed to transpire.

When the fourth quarter started, Canastota was in front, on the brink of the biggest win in head coach Eric Van Slyke's tenure.

Properly scared, the Gaelic Knights moved back in front and prevailed, 38-28 - but the Raiders had to leave the field feeling quite proud of how far it had come.

A season ago, Canastota was just 2-6. For every player that came back for 2009, the first motivation was to bring the Raiders back to an expanded (16 teams instead of eight) Class C playoff tournament.

Further motivation arrived in all the pre-season hype surrounding John Rooney, Omar Osbourne and the rest of the Gaelic Knights. Canastota listened, seethed - then went out and scared their noted visitors in green.

Canastota ran right at Ludden in its opening possession, with Sam Stagnitti and Jake LaBarre picking up the yards. LaBarre scored from eight yards out, and the Raiders were up 7-0.

Ludden answered with Osbourne's three-yard TD run before the first quarter was done, and it got worse for the Raiders when Stagnitta went out with a leg injury, forcing LaBarre to assume more of the rushing burden.

After the Gaelic Knights took a 13-7 lead on Osbourne's second three-yard TD run, LaBarre broke loose, going 66 yards for a touchdown. A missed extra point tied kept it at a 13-13 tie.

Rooney changed that in a big way. Within minutes of each other, he struck for two long TD passes - 65 yards to Mark DeAngelis, then 61 yards to Osbourne.

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