However, the Lakers got encouraging news two days before kickoff, when six M-E players were suspended for violations of team rules. That fact, combined with Cazenovia's determination to avenge its 2012 humiliation, would turn an already intense contest into something that no one who saw it would ever forget.
Right from its first possession, Cazenovia showed it could run right at M-E. Big gains by Vogl and Hopsicker changed field position, and when the Spartans fumbled at its own 28, the Lakers turned it into points, Hopsicker going the final yard for the score.
M-E trailed 7-0 midway through the first quarter, but didn't trail for long. A quick Spartan drive led to Adam Gallagher's 10-yard TD run and a 7-7 tie, and when Drew Gallagher intercepted a tipped Hopsicker pass early in the second quarter, it led to Colin LaSalle's one-yard scoring plunge and a 14-7 Cazenovia deficit.
Now it was the Lakers' turn to rally. Hopsicker cut loose for a 52-yard run deep into Spartan territory, and Vogl scored from eight yards out, Keaton Ackermann's extra point tying it 14-14 - at least until the next posession, when M-E regained the lead on Kyle Gallagher's 33-yard option run to the end zone.
Even with that, and even with a series of penalties hurting a possible scoring drive right before halftime, the Lakers, trailing 21-14 at the break, felt good about its chances.
And it felt even better after Vogl's 50-yard run in the third quarter led to Hopsicker scoring on a five-yard quarterback draw, again pulling Cazenovia even at 21-21.
Once more, M-E seized the lead, Kyle Gallagher going to the air for a 38-yard scoring pass to Adam Gallagher. Trailing 28-21, the Lakers got three chances on fourth down inside the Spartans' 10 due to a pair of penalties.