Any time the Marcellus football team can knock off its rivals from Skaneateles, it's a happy occasion.
So the Mustangs could feel good in the wake of Friday night's 20-14 victory over the Lakers, yet still realize that it was fortunate to escape after a second half where it did everything possible to keep Skaneateles in it.
Three times, the Mustangs fumbled the ball, including two turnovers inside the Lakers' 20, as it nearly saw a 20-7 halftime lead melt away.
Only the resilience of the Mustangs' defense allowed Marcellus to stay out in front, an effort capped off when Nick Huss intercepted Conor Herr's pass with 1:32 to play, thwarting the Lakers' possible winning drive.
None of these problems were evident in the first half, when Marcellus found success through the air and on the ground against a Skaneateles squad vastly improved under first-year head coach Tim Green.
A 79-yard march late in the first period led to the game's first point, with three big plays - Kyle Hastings throwing 2 yards to Chaz Hayes, Jeff Ames going 39 yards on a reverse, and Hastings scoring from 11 yards out on a bootleg.
Following a missed extra point, the Lakers responded with its own drive and briefly went ahead, 7-6, as Herr threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to James Smith and Tyler Saunders made the PAT.
With the wind at its back in the second quarter, the Mustangs would quickly regain the lead. A short drive led to Hastings' second TD, this one a five-yard run, followed by a two-point pass to Steve Raven that made it 14-7.
Long gains by Ricky Alfreds and R.J. Linder led to Hastings throwing a 17-yard scoring pass to Hayes two minutes before halftime, and it was 20-7 at the break.
Much of the second half, by contrast, consisted of the two sides driving deep into each other's ends, and getting nothing from it.