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ESM football fights off J-D, 14-7

Spartans hang on with last-second goal-line stand

— So much important action happens in football at or near the one-yard line, the last barrier on a gridiron between offensive resolution and defensive resolve.

It was in that space, right in front of the goal line, that Friday night's Class A American division showdown between East Syracuse-Minoa and Jamesville-DeWitt got settled, with the Spartans prevailing in a 14-7 thriller not resolved until the last play.

First, it was a punt, hit by ESM's Sean Richardson, which dropped inside the one-yard line in the third quarter, changing field position and eventually leading to the Spartans' go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Richardson to Pat Bryant.

And in that same area right in front of the goal line, ESM's defense saved the game when Andrew Messinger and Jose Sanchez stacked up Rasheed Baker, just short of a touchdown, as the clock ran out.

"Our defense kept us in the game," said Spartans head coach Kevin DeParde. "That last stand was about the kids' discipline and heart, not coaching."

Trailing by seven, the Red Rams had taken over on its own 22-yard line with 7:45 to play. Just as it had done most of the night, J-D relied on its ground game to eat up both yards and time.

Then, on fourth-and-eight from ESM's 48, Baker rolled right and threw a halfback option pass that Rob Murphy dove to catch at the Spartans' 25.

The march moved inside the 10 as Nate Shapiro converted another fourth down with less than a minute to play, making it first-and-goal at the five. Twice, Shapiro tried to bowl through the middle of the ESM front line, only to get stood up.

Taking its final time-out, J-D lined up on the one. Baker, who had gained 121 yards to that point, took the handoff and tried to power up the middle, only to have Messinger and Sanchez combine to stop him, and before the Rams could line up for one more play, the clock ran out.

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