By winning its first six games, the Fayetteville-Manlius football team locked up the Class AA-2 regular-season title. But it still wanted an undefeated season - even in the odd circumstances that Friday night's home game against Liverpool offered.
Going in, both the Hornets and Warriors knew that they would face each other again a week later, on the same field, in the first round of the Section III Class AA playoffs, and whatever happened here could not change that fact.
Still, it was F-M's Senior Night and, in front of home fans that braved rain and brutal winds, it steadily pulled away from Liverpool on its way to a 31-7 victory to wrap up that perfect 7-0 march through the regular season.
Liverpool was missing several key players, including all-around star Connor Rogers and Ethan VanMarter. Still, it got on the board in the second quarter in a big way when Josh Withrow scampered 67 yards for a touchdown, the extra point making it 7-7.
For F-M, who had gone ahead in the first quarter with Andrew Fletcher's four-yard TD run and Ari Waffle's extra point, the rare big play allowed by its normally stingy defense served as a spark, and the Hornets would not let the Warriors score again.
Quarterback John Wittig took it upon himself to score just before halftime, his 14-yard TD run putting the Hornets ahead 14-7 as they went to the break. And all through the second half, the Hornets dominated on both sides of the ball, giving itself ample time to pull away.
Matt Moro scored on a two-yard run in the third quarter, and Waffle found the end zone from four yards out, also getting on the board with a 20-yard field goal. As the starters rested in the fourth quarter, Jason Rhee earned his first varsity touchdown on an eight-yard run.
Before exiting, Moro compiled 97 rushing yards on 18 carries, with Fletcher adding 76 yards on just nine carries. Wittig threw eight passes in the brutal conditions, completing six of them for 81 yards.
The winner of the F-M-Liverpool rematch will face Baldwinsville or Corcoran in the AA semifinals on Oct. 29 or 30. A pair of losses set up this match-up, as the Bees fell at home to CBA 14-10 and the Cougars took a 22-20 defeat to Utica Proctor.