Not in a long time had the Jamesville-DeWitt football team hosted a Section III playoff game, and it wanted to make the occasion more memorable with a win over Watertown in Friday night's Class A quarterfinals.
But the Cyclones did not cooperate, hanging on to beat the Red Rams 22-14. By contrast, East Syracuse-Minoa had little trouble getting out of the opening round, pulling away in the late stages to eliminate Carthage 40-6.
J-D had earned the right to play at home by toppling Cortland 22-12 on Oct. 14. The "reward" for that effort, aside from a home game, was meeting a Watertown side that had started 5-0 this season before defeats to Whitesboro and Indian River.
All week long, the Rams had worked on containing the Cyclones' star running back, Diamond Williams. However, Williams had other plans, twice finding the end zone in the first quarter on a 39-yard sprint and one-yard plunge.
To its credit, J-D adjusted, and though Williams would finish with 154 yards on 23 carries, he would not score again, giving the Rams ample time to regroup.
On the other hand, J-D's option offense struggled throughout the first half, unable to move it much against Watertown's resistance. Thus, it stayed 14-0 going into halftime.
Finally, the Rams got the big play it needed when quarterback Eric Thompson found a seam and took off 34 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, also hitting the extra point to make it 14-7.
There it stayed until the fourth quarter. Early in that frame, the Cyclones nearly got away, Mason Phillips finding Caleb Bettis on a 34-yard TD pass and Williams scoring on a two-point run.
Now trailing 22-7, the Rams nearly made it all the way back. First, it put together a long scoring drive that Austin Tousaw finished off with a two-yard TD run. Then, getting the ball at its own one-yard line with four minutes left, it started on another long march, knowing a touchdown and two-point conversion could mean overtime.