Chittenango Back on Sept. 19, the Marcellus football team jumped out to a 21-point lead on defending Section III Class B champion Cazenovia – a lead it could not sustain.
Still, the fact that the Mustangs pushed the Lakers so hard in that 43-35 defeat meant that, when they met again in Saturday’s Class B semifinal at Chittenango High School, Marcellus could imagine giving Cazenovia another real battle.
But that did not turn out to be the case. Led by senior quarterback Kevin Hopsicker, the Lakers got away late in the first half and eventually beat the Mustangs 63-18 to earn a spot in this Sunday’s title game at the Carrier Dome against Oneida, who knocked off unbeaten Oneida 30-9 in the other semifinal.
What was the main problem for Marcellus was that Cazenovia had a vivid memory of the scare the Mustangs gave them. Hopsicker, in particular, wanted to avoid trouble, and the first time he had the ball on offense, Hopsicker took off up the middle and did not stop until he was in the end zone 69 yards later.
As if that wasn't enough, Hopsicker picked off Tom Keegan's pass at midfield late in the first quarter and returned it 36 yards to the Mustangs' nine. Two plays later, Hopsicker ran in himself, and the Mustangs trailed 14-0.
Marcellus did control the ball for most of the second quarter, putting together a pair of scoring drives. One ended in Keegan's nine-yard touchdown pass to Wyatt Stehle, and after Stehle recovered a Laker fumble, a shorter march led to Ross Filtch's 30-yard field goal, trimming Cazenovia's lead to 14-10.
What happened in the last 90 seconds of the first half, though, proved decisive. Cazenovia put together a solid mix of runs and passes on a 57-yard drive that Hopsicker finished off with a three-yard scoring run.