SYRACUSE — Only moments after the Lakers' offense coughed up a touchdown at their own goal line, Skaneateles bounced back with a big play of its own.

After that, the Lakers couldn’t be stopped.

The Skaneateles football team shrugged off a quick seven-point deficit to roll over General Brown 66-27 in the Section III, Class C championship game Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. It’s the Lakers’ first Class C crown since 2012.

It was also Skaneateles’ highest-scoring game since a 70-28 win over Jordan-Elbridge on Oct. 7, 2011.

“You don’t know at the beginning of a season how good you’re going to be,” Lakers coach Joe Sindoni said. “We knew we were a pretty good team, but for these kids to put it together like they did today … I’m really happy for them.”

Quarterback Patrick Hackler accounted for seven touchdowns. He was 11-for-21 with 226 yards and five touchdowns through the air, and added 135 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Nate Wellington caught five passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns, and Nick Wamp totaled three receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Areh Boni racked up 159 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, and Jack Comer reeled of a 73-yard rushing score.

On defense, Luke Viggiano recorded an interception and a fumble recovery, James Luebner had a forced fumble, and Jimmy Liberatore had a fumble recovery.

Skaneateles got off to an inauspicious start as its first two drives started deep on its own territory. On the second possession, Hackler’s hand-off fell to the turf and General Brown’s Damien Zawatski scooped up the loose ball and scored from three yards away 3:05 into the game.

“I took full responsibility for that. It was a zone read and I pulled the ball,” Hackler said. “I kind of lost it and it was a scoop-and-score. I told the team we just gave them seven points and that’s on me, but let’s go to work. We just went from there.”

On the first play of the Lakers’ next possession, Hackler hit Wellington on a flag pattern for 70 yards to tie the game and begin a charge where the Lakers scored touchdowns on 10 of the next 11 drives.

“It’s something we talk about,” Sindoni said. “When you’re playing against a good team there’s ebbs and flows, and things don’t always go your way. We talk about staying together and just playing, and that’s what they did. Those types of things help give you a boost.”

Hackler would throw two more touchdowns in the opening quarter — a 12-yard toss to Wamp and an 8-yarder to Wellington — to give Skaneateles a 21-14 lead after 12 minutes.

The backbreaker for the Lions came four minutes into the second quarter. General Brown went for it on fourth-and-4 from Skaneateles’ 5-yard line, but the Lakers’ defense stood up to force a turnover on downs.

Skaneateles took over at its own 2-yard line, and on a quarterback keeper Hackler ran through a clean hole for a 98-yard score down the sideline.

“I’m thankful for the offensive line. They did a great job today,” Hackler said. “I had a lot of time passing and I made some mistakes and they didn’t make too many. I think after (Canastota) we had to come together as a unit.”

General Brown and Skaneateles traded touchdowns to end the first half, but the Lakers scored three times in the third quarter while shutting out the Lions to take a commanding 54-21 lead entering the final frame.

In the last quarter, Skaneateles pounded away at General Brown’s defense with Boni and Comer adding touchdowns to bring the Lakers’ point total to 66.

Skaneateles’ win comes against a General Brown team that entered the contest undefeated and had never trailed by more than seven points all season. Against a cruising Lakers team, the Lions had no answer.

The passing attack was particularly difficult for General Brown to defend. Skaneateles possesses plenty of depth at wide receiver and a capable quarterback, and that often gives the Lakers a decided advantage.

“I think in high school the ability to throw the ball helps a little bit,” Sindoni said. “There’s a lot of teams that can run and I feel like we can run to, but the ability to throw keeps a defense from being able to attack. They have to pick their poison. Our philosophy all year is to take what we’ve been given and that’s what we did today.”

The victory guarantees Skaneateles another week as the the Lakers will take on Newark Valley in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association sub-regional next Saturday at Union-Endicott High School. Newark Valley is the defending state champion for Class C.

“I hope I’m going to be able to enjoy this for a couple hours anyways,” Sindoni said. “I know very little (about Newark Valley), but I know they run for about 500 yards every game and they haven’t lost in two years. We’ve got our hands full.”

Sports writer Justin Ritzel can be reached at 282-2257 or at justin.ritzel@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenRitz.

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