Manlius Everything about the Fayetteville-Manlius football team's pulsating 40-35 victory over Liverpool in the opening round of the Section III Class AA playoffs was outsized.
From a massive start by the Hornets to a massive comeback by the Warriors, to several momentum shifts in a back-and-forth second half, everything was rated larger. So it only figured that a big play in the game's final minute decided matters.
F-M trailed, 35-34, and was only alive because quarterback Wolfgang Shafer, who had struggled throwing the ball much of the night, had found Sawyer Dew for a nine-yard completion on fourth-down-and-five near midfield, Liverpool protesting that a holding penalty was missed.
With the clock running, Shafer, from his own 45-yard line, saw that F-M's top receiver, Austin Perez, was isolated in single coverage. So Shafer threw deep to him - and Perez got it, not stopping until he was tackled at the Warriors' five-yard line, a 50-yard completion.
Sean Bright took a handoff down to the one-yard line. Then, with 15 seconds left, Bright plunged the final yard into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. Perez intercepted Zavon Watkins' last-minute deep pass, and F-M had survived.
That the Hornets needed to survive was a tribute to Liverpool's resilience in the face of a brutal start where it fell behind 26-0 in the game's first 10 minutes.
In fact, it was 12-0 before the Warriors even got the ball. F-M took the opening kickoff and marched straight to the end zone, Bright scoring on a 13-yard run. Then Jimmy Krizman executed an onside kick that Langston Lightcap recovered, which led to another quick march and Ryan Greer scoring on a one-yard plunge.
Liverpool went three-and-out. F-M marched 74 yards to yet another seven points from Bright's 20-yard TD run and Krizman's extra point. Ryan Simmons intercepted Watkins' deep pass, and it led to yet another Hornets drive that Bright finished off with a seven-yard scoring run.