SYRACUSE Two neighbors and rivals came to the Carrier Dome Sunday to renew the football battle for the Tom Anthony Silver Cup, with Marcellus fighting to hold on to it and Solvay fighting just as hard to take it back and end its long period in the gridiron wilderness.
And it would go back and forth for a long while before the Mustangs pulled ahead for keeps in the third quarter, and then held on to defeat the gritty Bearcats 40-32 in the Kickoff Classic.
More than the Silver Cup was at stake. So was the 23-game losing streak that had come to define a once-proud Solvay program, a three-year-long skid that the Bearcats, with a larger roster in 2013 and renewed energy, was bent on erasing.
The opening drive appeared to mark Solvay's new beginning. From its own 37, it pounded away at the ground, mostly on runs from Nick Cometti and Brandon Franklin.
Then, on third-down-and-15 from the Mustangs' 35, Franklin found Devlin White in stride for a 35-yard touchdown, and Josh Marotti's extra point put the Bearcats ahead 7-0.
Marcellus didn't blink, promptly going 67 yards on its own opening drive, mixing up runs and throws until quarterback Tom Keegan scrambled six yards for the TD. But the PAT was blocked, and so Solvay still clung to a 7-6 edge.
Solvay wasted little time finding the end zone again. Cometti's impressive 37-yard run, where he dragged Mustang defenders more than 10 yards before going down, led to White bursting up the middle 16 yards for six points. It was 14-6 after Marotti his his second PAT.
Again the Mustangs responded, this time with a big run as Ian McGloon, on a sweep from midfield, broke through the line and outraced the Solvay defenders 50 yards for the score in the last minute of the opening period. A missed two-point attempt kept Solvay in front 14-12.