From missed scoring opportunities to a continual wave of penalty flags, the Marcellus football team made a season full of mistakes to keep Chittenango close in Friday night's Kickoff Classic at the Carrier Dome.
Still, the Mustangs gained a small amount of payback when it beat the Bears 18-6, even if the stakes were not as big as the last time these two sides met.
That, of course, was the opening round of the 2008 Section III Class B playoffs, where the favored Mustangs took a painful 20-7 defeat at home to Chittenango.
So perhaps it was fitting that, in the sequel, it was the often-forgotten Mustangs defense that seized a good part of the spotlight.
From Steve Brisette and Steve Raven intercepting passes from Chittenango sophomore quarterback Devin Christopher (making his first varsity start), to Jason Howard, Joe Felicia and John Howard dominating on the line, Marcellus kept the Bears uncomfortable all night.
It helped to have an early lead to protect. Big plays in the first half set up a pair of Mustang touchdowns - Ricky Alfreds scoring on a two-yard run, then Will Fiacchi going in on a one-yard sneak.
Two other times, though, Marcellus had touchdowns taken off the board by penatlies, and it also erased some big gains from Alfreds, who still had 112 yards on 10 carries despite the mistakes.
As for Fiacchi, his much-anticipated season debut had ups and downs, but he finished with a manageable 19 of 37 completions for 214 yards.
The ultimate result of those errors was that Chittenango hung close. Yet another mistake - a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a field-goal attempt - led to the Bears' lone points.
Facing fourth down from the Mustangs' 29, Christopher handed off to Kyle Mills, who threw a halfback option pass - and found Nic Bacon in the end zone. Chittenango only trailed 12-6, with time enough to catch up.
In response, the Mustangs put it away, moving down to the Bears' 15 before Fiacchi found Zach Amidon alone in the end zone with 5:47 left.
Marcellus has its home opener next Friday against Vernon Verona Sherrill, while Chittenango also is at home, taking on Westhill - the team the Mustangs clash with on Sept. 18.