And now, with Ludden up 25-13 at halftime, the Raiders, burned by the Gaelic Knights' trademark big plays, could have easily melted away.
It did not. Instead, Canastota dominated the third quarter, first with a 91-yard, 10-play drive that ended with LaBarre's two-yard TD run, then a shorter march where Zach Zupan traded carries with LaBarre.
When Zupan scored on a one-yard plunge and LaBarre added a two-point conversion, Canastota pushed ahead 28-25, and the home crowd was roaring.
Here, Ludden, forced to show championship poise in early September, did so - and Rooney was the spark.
For the third time on the night, Rooney threw a deep touchdown pass, 46 yards to DeAngelis, to put the Gaelic Knights ahead for good at 31-28. Following a defensive stop, Ludden regained the ball and moved to Canastota's five-yard line, from where Rooney ran in for the clincher.
For the night, Rooney completed just eight passes, but they went for 229 yards. Osbourne added 107 yards on the ground, but never broke big runs against the Raiders' defense. LaBarre had 140 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Ludden gets another non-league test back home this Friday against traditional Class D power Onondaga, who started by beating LaFayette/Fabius-Pompey 34-6.
Canastota plays on Saturday at Cazenovia, who blasted Altmar-Parish-Williamstown 49-0 in its opener - the Lakers yet another Class C power that might find the Raiders a tougher foe than they might expect.