Salter, after a few plays, went to the sidelines and would not return. Initially, CBA shook this off, grabbing a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when, on fourth down from the Elmira four-yard line, Zazzara found Johnathan Stackhouse in the end zone and Nolan Bower added the extra point.
The Express countered early in the second quarter with a 54-yard march that Thomas capped off with an eight-yard TD run, but a missed conversion kept CBA in front 7-6.
That didn't last long, though, as Elmira went to the air late in the half, Rasean Brooks going deep to find a wide-open Thomas for a 47-yard scoring pass with 1:25 left in the second quarter.
Trailing 12-7, CBA took just two plays to answer, as Zazzara, again going through the air, found Andre Dowdell for a 24-yard TD pass and ran it in for two points, giving the Brothers a 15-12 edge that held up until halftime as Elmira missed a field goal in the waning seconds before the break.
Shaking this off, the Express took the second-half kickoff and went 69 yards, again mostly through its ground game, until Thomas scored from one yard out. Another missed conversion left CBA with an 18-15 deficit.
Twice, the Brothers tried to move in front, and were frustrated on both occasions. Stackhouse, seeing far more carries in Salter's absence, fumbled near the Elmira goal line late in the third quarter, and the Express recovered.
CBA drove again inside Elmira's 10-yard line early in the final period, and again were stopped, but this time held on to the ball long enough for Bower to shake off a high snap and drill a 24-yard field goal, tying it at 18-18 with nine minutes left.
What followed was all the Express had been building up to for three-plus quarters. Elmira held the ball for more than six minutes, patiently picking up first downs and eating up more than six minutes of clock.