Fulton stops ESM in first-place duel

Three big plays, all given up in the first quarter, put the East Syracuse-Minoa football team into a deficit it could not get out of in Friday night's big Class A American division showdown with Fulton.

On the ground, through the air and with special teams, the Red Raiders hurt the Spartans many different ways, ultimately spoiling ESM's debut on its new artificial turf field at Spartan Stadium in a 33-20 decision.

Going in, the consensus was that both teams would live, or perish, through their ground games - Fulton spreading things around, ESM through Dustin Moss, who ran for 300 yards against Cortland a week ago.

No doubt, the Red Raiders were itching for payback, too, since ESM had won each of the last three meetings on its way to three consecutive league titles, including a 10-7 decision at Fulton in 2008 won by the Spartans on a last-second field goal.

Fulton's first big play came through the ground. Staring at fourth-down-and-inches on its own 35-yard line, the Red Raiders went for it. ESM expected an inside run - but quarterback Brett Williams faked the handoff and took off down the sideline, 65 yards to the end zone for a quick 6-0 Fulton lead.

Moss gave the Spartans a quick answer, accounting for most of the yards on a 64-yard march, including the last 30 for a touchdown. Moss also hit the extra point, and ESM was up 7-6.

It was ESM's only lead of the night - and it lasted just 14 seconds, the length of time it took John Strong to return the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for his own TD. A two-point run by Williams made it 14-7.

And Fulton wasn't done yet. late in the period, from his own 27, Williams threw deep and found Max Ambuske alone in the backfield. Ambushe finished off a 73-yard TD reception, and ESM found itself down 21-7.

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