Fayetteville-Manlius wide receiver Brandon Gesler (6) tries to get away from Baldwinsville’s Ricky Sparks (23) after making a catch in Friday night's Class AA semifinal, where the Hornets lost a narrow 38-36 decision to the Bees.
continued Trailing 28-9, F-M started to rally thanks to more Bees penalties, as two personal fouls led to Bright's five-yard scoring run that cut the margin to 28-15.
What followed was one of Rouse's finest moments in a career full of superlatives. Taking a toss at his own 48, Rouse broke several tackles at the line of scrimmage, took off down the right sideline and, with one man to beat, just jumped over him while tumbling into the end zone.
Again, the Hornets would not surrender. Bright's third TD, on a 16-yard run, made it 35-22, and after the Hornets recovered an onside kick, it converted a pair of fourth downs on the way to Chris Bortel's one-yard TD plunge with 9:10 left.
So now it was 35-29, and B'ville needed a big play. Again, it came from the passing game, Demoski finding Anthony for a 35-yard completion that set up a 27-yard field goal by sophomore Tom Scarfino with 6:15 left, which turned out to be the winning points.
That's because the Hornets again moved down the field, cutting the deficit to two on Jake Wittig's 20-yard scoring pass to Dan Wyman with 3:28 left.
Again, B'ville turned to Rouse. His tough 10-yard run, and a two-yard run that followed on third-and-two, allowed the Bees to eat up most of the remaining clock, and Rouse was roughed trying to punt the ball in the final minute, giving the Bees a clinching first down.
For the night, Rouse gained 272 yards on 35 carries, numbers similar to the first time F-M faced him. Bright led his side with 122 yards on 37 carries as Ryan Greer got 62 yards on 17 carries.
Some key players now leave F-M, including Bright, Shafer, Greer, Nate Kadah, Josh Pulver, Matt McDonough and Brandon Gesler, and Hornets will always wonder what kind of success may have taken place had Austin Perez not gone down with a torn ACL before the season even started.
What reassures the F-M faithful, though, is seeing stars like Wittig, Wilson, Luke Krizman, Paddy Quinlan, Zaire Ashley, David Riccione, Richard Zogby and T.J. Wheatley set to return in 2013 and again pursue a sectional title that’s stayed elusive for more than a decade.