Dreams that football teams from East Syracuse-Minoa and Jamesville-DeWitt carried of, perhaps, meeting up in the Carrier Dome for the Section III Class A championship were thwarted one step short of that goal.
The Spartans dropped a 43-36 classic to Carthage in Friday night's Class A semifinal at Fulton Stadium, while in the other semifinal the Red Rams fell to Indian River for the second time this season in a 31-14 decision at Watertown High School.
Of the two, ESM had the closer call, leading five different times against Carthage, only to see the Comets rally every time and finally take the lead on quarterback Bailey Wilkinson's 20-yard run, which erased the Spartans' slim 36-35 edge.
Long before that, though, the game's tone was set on the first three possessions, all of which ended in touchdowns. Jose Sanchez scored on a 12-yard run to put ESM up 7-0, but Wilkinson answered for the Comets, finding the end zone from 15 yards out, before Sanchez caught a screen pass from Richardson that he turned into a 28-yard TD.
Ahead 14-7 going to the second period, the Spartans continued to find it difficult to contain Wilkinson, whose second TD, a 22-yard run, made it 14-14, though ESM went back in front with Richardson's second scoring pass of the night, 15 yards to Eyan Underwood.
Thanks to a pair of interceptions - one by Andy Messinger, the other by Kollin Diedrickson - ESM was able to overcome a series of costly penalties and keep that 21-14 lead to halftime, though Diedrickson's 34-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the second quarter went wide.
Taking the second-half kickoff, Carthage moved to ESM's 10-yard line, from where Josh Capers found the end zone, the extra point tying it again at 21-21.
Sanchez countered with his third TD, this one a 22-yard run set up by Richardson's 44-yard pass to Dashaun Gorman, and this time the Spartans went for two, faking the PAT as Richardson instead found Pat Bryant in the end zone as ESM grabbed a 29-21 lead.