Pinned near its own goal line late in the fourth quarter of a tie game in Saturday's Section III Class B semifinal at Chittenango High School, the Marcellus football team decided to make one more run at Cazenovia.
But that run proved costly, as the Lakers tackled Ricky Alfreds in the end zone with 1:31 to play for the decisive points, leading the Mustangs to a 16-14 defeat and the end of its dream to return to the sectional championship game in the Carrier Dome.
Indeed, it was that Lakers defense that finally subdued the Mustangs, scoring all nine of the team's points in the fourth quarter, including that safety.
The final period began with Cazenovia and Marcellus locked in a 7-7 tie, and the Mustangs looked to be in good shape when the Lakers' Jose Wells muffed a punt at his own 43-yard line and Nick Huss recovered.
On the very next play, though, the defense turned it around - or, to put it more precisely, Chris Giardina turned it around.
Marcellus quarterback Kyle Hastings set up a pass to the right flat - but Giardina, from his spot in the secondary, jumped the
route, made the interception at midfield and took off, 50 yards to the other end zone, to put Cazenovia ahead 14-7 with 10:18 left.
Still, the Mustangs fought back. With 6:14 to play, on third down at the Lakers' 45, Hastings threw to the sideline and, despite good single coverage, Chaz Hayes made a one-handed catch and went in for the touchdown. Nick Nye made the extra point, and it was tied again, 14-14.
Cazenovia got the ball back and, with four minutes left, converted a fourth down with a John Greacen run near midfield. Trying for the go-ahead score, Jeff Hopsicker threw deep with 1:55 left - but Hayes made the interception on his own two-yard line.