The Oneonta City Stallions had little reason to play it safe Saturday at Hartwick College.
Trailing by 13 points late in the fourth quarter, the Stallions sandwiched two touchdowns around a gift safety for a 15-point rally and a 22-20 Northeastern Football Alliance victory over the visiting Utica Yard Dawgs.
"My heart can't take much more of this," Stallions co-owner Tom Terry joked Sunday. "It was an amazing finish. That's a game you can't win. We won, but that's a game you can't win. We had no shot."
Oneonta City faced a 20-7 deficit with 6 minutes, 39 seconds left but pulled to 20-13 when quarterback Noble Champen capped a 70-yard, no-huddle touchdown drive with an 18-yard run. Jimmy Kazalski's second extra point followed to make it 20-14, but the Stallions had neither the time nor the ball to do much else.
"Utica was inside its 1-yard line and the quarterback took the snap and heaved the ball as far as he could down the field," said Terry, whose team drew 350 fans Saturday. "Since there were no receivers, it was an automatic safety."
The Yard Dawgs' miscue cut their advantage to 20-16 and put the ball back into the hands of the Stallions with 18.4 seconds left.
Terry said his team ran out of bounds on the kickoff return before Champen threw consecutive incomplete passes, leaving Oneonta City with 4 seconds and one last shot to pull off a stunner.
Champen then took the final snap and scrambled long enough to find Ahmed Hassanien for a 50-yard TD pass that gave the Stallions to a 7-1 record atop the NFA's East A Division and their first playoff berth in franchise history.
"They're the only team that beat us this year," Terry said, referring to the Stallions' 14-7 season-opening loss at Utica (3-5). "That was their playoff game last night. They gave us more than we could handle.