More than three long and painful years after it started, the Solvay football team got an opportunity to celebrate something that was once quite regular for them - a victory.
The Bearcats, whose 26-game skid was the longest in New York State, finally prevailed on Friday afternoon, going to Phoenix and beating the Firebirds by a score of 27-19.
Elsewhere in local Class B West action, Marcellus moved to 3-1, defeating Cortland 19-14, while Westhill took a 41-7 defeat to unbeaten Homer.
None of those games, though, had the emotional resonance of what took place in Phoenix. Since winning its first game of the 2010 season, Solvay had endured defeat after defeat, a once-glorious program reeling and forced to rebuild from scratch.
But the work of head coach Matt Shutts and his staff is starting to pay off, from success at the junior varsity level to games where the Bearcats were far more competitive, including a 40-32 defeat to Marcellus in the Sept. 8 opener at the Carrier Dome.
Even when Solvay suffered a 48-6 home defeat to neighbor and rival Westhill a week ago, the players did not wallow in despair, instead putting in another week of hard work that, at Phoenix, would bring a long-awaited payoff.
The Bearcats and Firebirds traded scoring drives in the first quarter, Solvay getting on the board with Devlin White's four-yard touchdown run. Even though Nick Cometti scored on a one-yard plunge in the second period, Solvay still trailed, 19-14, at halftime.
Here was where the Bearcats' defense took over. Making a stand, Solvay took away anything that Phoenix tried to establish, forcing punts and turnovers on downs to give the offense ample opportunities to pull in front.
And that's what Solvay did, seizing a 20-19 edge in the third quarter when quarterback Brandon Franklin scored from one yard out. Though the two-point try failed, the Bearcats would drive again in the fourth quarter, and Cometti tacked on his second TD on a four-yard run, Josh Marotti converting the extra point.