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Bears stop South Jefferson in playoff opener

Balanced attack works in 35-21 win over Spartans

Nothing about the Chittenango football team's Section III Class B playoff opener against South Jefferson proved too easy.

However, all that mattered was that the Bears prevailed, 35-21, over the Spartans Friday night to move within a single victory of a championship game appearance in the Carrier Dome, something it hasn't accomplished since 1999.

Chittenango had to quickly shake off the disappointment of a last-minute, 13-10 defeat to Cazenovia on its home field a week earlier, the loss denying the Bears a shot at an undefeated regular season.

South Jefferson, despite its no. 7 playoff speed and a long bus ride it had to take from its home in Adams, was not in the mood to help. In fact, it got on the board first, Tom Gordiner connecting with star back Mitch Modlin on a 65-yard touchdown pass during the opening period.

Quickly, the Bears answered, moving to the Spartans' 12-yard line before Joe Gilona took it into the end zone. However, the conversion was missed, so it went to the second period with Chittenango down 7-6.

That didn't last long, though. The Bears' passing game awakened as quarterback Devin Phelps twice threw TD passes, going 27 yards to Gilona for one score and 23 yards to Devin Christopher for another.

This play, plus a Phelps two-point conversion and Steve Billington extra point, helped Chittenango go to halftime sporting a 21-7 lead, but it was far from over.

South Jefferson would take its turn in the third quarter, keeping the Bears off the board. The Spartanswould also put together a scoring drive that was capped by Joe DeFranco's 14-yard TD run, cutting the margin to 21-14.

Early in the fourth quarter. Devin Phelps hit Brad Phelps for his third TD pass of the night, covering 20 yards. Again, South Jefferson had an answer, driving to the Bears' two-yard line before Modlin put it in the end zone.

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