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Stalwarts, surprises mark football semifinal clashes

Cato-Meridian and Watertown IHC arrive at their Class C semifinal at Central Square off twin cases of high drama on Friday. Cato needed two overtimes and seven Utica-Notre Dame turnovers before it finally escaped, 42-36, on a fourth-down TD pass from Nick LaLone to Utah Perham that kept the game from going longer. IHC needed its own kind of fortune at Canastota in the form of a muffed punt with less than two minutes left that set up the second Anthony Magovney game-winning last-second field goal in three weeks and a 24-22 win. Simply put, the Cavaliers will not give the Blue Devils as many gifts as the Jugglers did.

Oneida registered the first figurative earthquake of the weekend when it won 24-8 at Oneida. The Indians never let the Warriors get its vaunted passing game off the ground, and found that it had in Matt Barlow a back that liked to run, a lot - to the tune of 42 carries and 260 yards. A day later, having moved its playoff home date to New Hartford, VVS unleashed a healthy Tyler Mautner again, and his 278 yards and four TDs keyed a wild 35-20 win over Homer where the Red Devils led 21-0, nearly blew all of it, then scored twice in the fourth quarter to get clear.

That means - you guessed it - the Oneida-VVS rivalry is on again for Saturday's semifinal at Chittenango. Given how the Red Devils pushed the Indians around in that 33-7 game at the end of the regular season, the Indians will be burning for atonement. And it gives VVS a real dilemma - run at them, which worked so well the first time? Or let Mautner fling it? Nothing much on the line with that decision - except bragging rights for a long time and a Dome ticket.

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