Corcoran is the only Syracuse city high school football team whose season will continue in the Section III playoffs.
And even the Cougars head there with a blemish as, after a 5-0 start, it lost 21-13 to Fayetteville-Manlius in last Friday night's Class AA-2 division first-place showdown.
With that win, the Hornets clinched the AA-2 regular-season title. Corcoran, to get a first-round home game next weekend, now must win at Utica Proctor (5-1) this Friday night.
On the same Friday as Corcoran lost, Henninger and Nottingham both slipped out of Class AA playoff contention, as the Black Knights took a 35-33 loss to West Genesee and the Bulldogs fell 35-21 to Liverpool.
Corcoran got off to just the right start against F-M, going 79 yards on the game's first possession, mostly through running the ball. In fact, it was quarterback Shakem Buckmon that slipped out of the pocket on fourth down and took off 36 yards to the end zone to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
The Hornets' response came in the second quarter, courtesy of a pair of drives. Some key passes by John Wittig set up Matt Moro's six-yard TD run that tied it, 7-7, and two long passes from Wittig to Louis Muraco, the latter covering 24 yards, put F-M ahead 14-7 just 2:09 before halftime.
Far from done, the Cougars used another long march, covering 75 yards, to pull within one in the third quarter. But after Delvon Adams found the end zone from eight yards out, the Cougars went for two points and the lead - and Chao Porch got stuffed.
Ultimately, Corcoran hurt itself with turnovers in the fourth quarter. A muffed punt by Hezekiah Thomas got lost to the Hornets, and led to a short drive capped by Moro's four-yard TD run.
Twice, the Cougars would get chance to pull even. But without Buckmon (knocked out by a hard hit from F-M defensive end Brent Strickland), Corcoran could not convert. Chao Porch fumbled on the Hornets' 36 with four minutes left, and Moro intercepted a last-ditch pass with a minute to play.
Henninger had a fair share of excitement in its trip to West Genesee, but still could not pull it out.
Trailing 8-0 late in the first quarter, Henninger got on the board as, on third-and-10, Eryc Dykes threw a screen pass from midfield to Chris Hicks, who sped past WG's defenders down the sideline to the end zone. The Black Knights went ahead 13-8 early in the second quarter when Shakim Clark burst up the middle 22 yards for his team's second TD.
But the Wildcats countered and moved ahead again, 16-13. But that didn't last as Henninger took 10 plays to go 64 yards, Dykes finding Hicks for a 10-yard scoring pass 90 seconds before halftime.
Those 90 seconds were enough time for WG quarterback Matt Naton to race his Wildcats downfield to the Black Knights' six-yard line. Jalen Thomas again finished it off, his third touchdown with 12 seconds left making it 23-20 at the break.
In a game that had already seen four lead changes, a fifth came in the third quarter thanks to Henninger's latest long march, ending with Hicks catching his third scoring pass of the night.
Again, WG trailed, 27-23. Again, it came back, Naton turning to his favorite receiver, Pat Brown, on consecutive scoring drives. Both times, the Wildcats missed the conversion, and Henninger, down 35-27, still had a chance.
Sure enough, it cut the margin to two on Dykes' four-yard TD pass to Hicks with four minutes left, but could not hit on the tying conversion. WG couldn't run out the clock, giving the Black Knights one more chance with a kicker, Andres Abadie, who had hit a 47-yard field goal earlier this season. But the Wildcat defense, whose key fourth-down stop led to the final TD, would stop Henninger one last time.
Nottingham also had a chance to knock off Liverpool, and even led briefly in the fourth quarter before the Warriors made a late push to clinch a playoff spot.
The Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter with a smart scoring drive and quarterback Marty Clanton scrambling six yards for the touchdown.
Liverpool answered with back-to-back drives in the second period, both times reaching the end zone as fullback Josh Withrow score on a five-yard run and one-yard plunge. Connor Rogers made both extra points, and Nottingham trailed 14-6 going into the break.
Still, Nottingham persevered and, in the third period, pulled back even with a drive that led to Clanton going two yards for his second TD of the night. When Clanton threw to Charles Gary in the end zone for two points, they were tied, 14-14, going to the final period.
Early in the fourth quarter, the exchange continued. Luigi Barletta threw a 21-yard TD pass to Jaheem Hogan, but Liverpool missed the conversion. Nottingham countered with its own drive, Jamar Adams going the final 29 yards for the score and Josh Feldman making the go-ahead extra point.
Now trailing 21-20, Liverpool found itself on its own 24-yard line. Barletta decided to throw deep - and he found Zavon Watkins, the speedy receiver finishing off a 76-yard scoring play that, with Tyland Thompson's two-point run, pushed the Warriors ahead for good. To clinch it, Withrow went 20 yards for his third touchdown in the final minutes.
Elsewhere on Friday, Fowler lost 48-6 to Utica Proctor and Institute of Technology Central had a 36-0 defeat to Altmar-Parish-Williamstown.