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Oneida rallies, stuns Solvay at wire

Somewhere in the final minutes Friday night at Earl Hadley Stadium, Jeremy Rodriguez turned into Ryan Kramer.

Okay, maybe that didn't literally happen. But what the Oneida football team's new quarterback, and his mates, pulled off in the Indians' 14-13 win over Solvay in its 2009 season opener was as exciting as anything Kramer did in his storied career.

Shaking off a rough game-long baptism into the rigors of Section III varsity football, Oneida, with 20 starters gone from last year's team that went to the state finals, erased a 13-0 deficit in the game's final four minutes, winning with the boldest possible move.

Whether it was penalties, or turnovers, or a total lack of rhythm, Oneida could do little on the offensive side as Rodriguez tried to get comfortable with his daunting role as Kramer's successor.

A lot of it, of course, had to do with a Solvay defense bent on restoring its own pride in the wake of an uncharacteristic 2-6 campaign in 2008 that stood in total contrast to Oneida's magical run.

Every time the Indians got close to scoring, Solvay kept them out, forcing a pair of turnovers, both fumbles. Of course, Oneida kept the Bearcats away, too, and the two sides went to halftime 0-0, waiting for someone to break through.

That proved to be Solvay. Midway through the third quarter, the Bearcats moved to Oneida's 11-yard line, then scored when Brian Wright hit Taylor Delperuto in the end zone. John Savo's extra point made it 7-0.

So it remained until the middle of the fourth quarter. From Oneida's 12-yard line, the Bearcats' Robert Jackson found a hole and didn't stop until he had a touchdown with 5:02 to play. The missed extra point kept the score at 13-0, though the way Oneida was going, few thought that would matter.

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