Moss leads Spartans past Cortland

So it's all set up - the East Syracuse-Minoa football team, on its brand-new artificial turf field, confronting Fulton, with the winner taking firm control of the Class A American division race.

The Spartans improved its mark to 2-0 Friday night by riding Dustin Moss and its power running game through a wet visit to Cortland, beating the Purple Tigers 28-7.

ESM nearly pulled off its second shutout in as many weeks, following up the 23-0 work on Mexico in the Carrier Dome seven days earlier. Cortland's lone points came in the game's final seconds, long after the Spartans' starters had left the scene.

On what would be ESM's longest road trip of the season, a steady rain added an extra element of mystery - at least in theory.

With the Spartans, though, the game plan remained simple: run it, then run it some more until Cortland stopped it.

And no one would stop Moss on this night. He carried the ball an astonishing 40 times, picking up exactly 300 yards. In two games, Moss has 507 rushing yards.

Naturally, Moss started the scoring, as he broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

A missed extra point kept it at 6-0, but ESM made up for it in the second period. Moss scored his second TD on a 34-yard run, and Bobby Campese caught a two-point pass, so ESM took a 14-0 lead to the break.

Patiently, the Spartans controlled the clock throughout the third quarter, and while it didn't add to the lead, ESM used its fast, ferocious defense to keep Cortland from getting close to the end zone, shutting down both the run and the pass.

And it was that defense that put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble in the end zone that Andrew Kirkpatrick fell on for a touchdown. Just to be sure, Moss went 60 yards for his third TD.

All this leads to the Spartans' showdown with Fulton, who is also 2-0 after winning twice in a span of six days - over Nottingham 40-20 in the Kickoff Classic at ther Carrier Dome, then over Mexico 15-7.

The Red Raiders, like ESM, prefers to keep it on the ground, with a big and physical offensive line paving the way for running backs like D.J. Ingham, Don Watson and Brett Williams.

ESM will play four of its remaining five regular-season games on its new field, but the first one might prove the most important.

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