To get one more chance to play at home this fall in the Section III Class A playoffs, the Jamesville-DeWitt football team had to pass a major road test.
And the Red Rams did that, going to Cortland Friday night and toppling the Purple Tigers 22-12 to clinch sole possession of second place in the Class A American division.
First place, of course, went to East Syracuse-Minoa, whose undefeated regular season culminated with a 53-0 romp over Fulton at Spartan Stadium.
Since ESM already knew its post-season position, all eyes were on Cortland. Not only did J-D need a win to avoid a long road trip to Indian River (who beat Watertown 14-8 to clinch second in the National division), it had to show that the 48-6 loss it took to the Spartans a week ago did not have any lingering effects.
Quickly, the Rams' defense displayed its muscle against Cortland's potent passing attack, forcing a safety in the first quarter to put J-D in front 2-0. Still with that momentum, the Rams made it 9-0 later in the period, Eric Thompson scoring on a four-yard run.
Yet even when Rasheed Baker found the end zone on a three-yard run to make it 16-0, J-D could not feel too safe, even if the Purple Tigers found it difficult to throw as much as it wanted in the wet and windy conditions.
Sure enough, Devon Darrow hit Dylan Strafford on a 20-yard touchdown pass, making it 16-6 at halftime, and in the third period Cortland accounted for the only points as Darrow threw an eight-yard scoring pass to Josh Gutches.
So it was 16-12 in the fourth quarter, and someone had to make a big play. Josiah Williams did just that, taking an option pitch at midfield and zooming 51 yards to the end zone for the clinching TD. The Purple Tigers would not threaten again.