Here was a chance for the West Genesee football team to move right into the race for the Class AA-2 regular-season title.
Instead, the Wildcats' trip to Syracuse's North Side ended in frustration Friday night as it took a 20-14 loss to the Henninger Black Knights at Sunnycrest Field and fell to 1-3 on the season, 1-1 in league play.
This was the first meeting bteween WG and Henninger since last fall's Section III Class AA final, where the Black Knights dethroned the Wildcats behind a series of big plays, most of them by Shaquille Leggett.
And while Leggett and many of his teammates have graduated, Henninger still has plenty of good players to fill in the blanks.
That includes running back Reggie Robinson, who shredded the Wildcats' defense for a career-best 246 yards. Robinson had to do more, since quarterback Shawn Bryant injured his shoulder on the game's opening drive and did not return.
What should have been a great opportunity for WG to take charge in Bryant's absence turned, instead, into a scoreless first quarter.
Early in the second period, Henninger got on the board. Bryant's replacement, Brandon Hanks, converted a key fourth down deep in WG territory, then threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Cole King to put his team up 6-0.
WG nearly answered, but got stopped on fourth down inside the Black Knights' 10-yard line, and that 6-0 deficit held up until halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, the Wildcats finally struck with a sustained march that culminated in Sirron Wright going four yards for the TD. A blocked extra point kept the game tied, 6-6.
Less than a minute before the third period ended, Hanks hit King again, a 15-yard TD strike, and the successful two-point conversion left WG down 14-6 with one period left.