Unwilling to let themselves be blown out of the Carrier Dome, the Spartans responded with a gutsy drive. A 33-yard pass from Layton to Paluba on third-and-long got BH-BL to Sweet Home's 25-yard line. Then, Layton converted on a fourth-down play to set up Flint's 14-yard touchdown run that cut Sweet Home's lead to 28-14.
The drive got BH-BL's offense going. The Spartans started the third quarter in fine fashion when Vuillaume took off on a 42-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-21. Then, BH-BL blocked a Sweet Home punt and recovered the ball at the Panthers' 19-yard line with 7:18 left, which ignited the 3,000-plus Spartan fans that made the three-hour drive to Syracuse.
An 11-yard run by Vuillaume moved the Spartans within close range of Sweet Home's end zone, but the Panthers' defense " a unit that had allowed only two touchdowns in regional and semifinal play " stopped BH-BL and forced a field goal attempt. Layton stepped up and booted the 23-yard field goal, but an encroachment penalty against Sweet Home nullified the attempt. Still, the Spartans had another shot at the end zone from Sweet Home's 3-yard line.
Back under center for the fourth-down play, Layton rolled out of the pocket and looked for an open receiver in the end zone. But he was forced to throw wildly as three Sweet Home defenders rushed him, and the ball was tipped away for an incomplete pass. The Panthers got the ball back at their own 3.
"We needed the points to take away their momentum, but give their defense credit for stopping us (on that play)," said Layton.
Energized by its goal line stand, Sweet Home went on a 12-play, 97-yard drive that tailback Deshanro Morris capped with a three-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers ahead 35-21.