Players and fans were scattered all over the field in wild celebration. The head coach got a Gatorade bath. TV cameras captured the whole wonderful scene.
No, the Liverpool football team had not won a championship. But by pulling out a 43-37, double-overtime decision over Corcoran last Friday night, the Warriors captured its sixth game in a row and won the right to open the Section III Class AA playoffs at home -- something no one could have imagined a couple of a months ago.
"These kids have exceeded my expectations for them," said head coach Dave Mancuso. "I'm shocked by the way they played tonight, and proud of them."
Four different times, Liverpool trailed the Cougars. Every time, it rallied, producing one of the most memorable victories in the program's storied history.
From the opening kickoff, to the moment Darnell Sapps was ruled out of bounds at the end of the second OT period more than three hours later, the outcome was in doubt, sending fans on both sides on an emotional roller coaster.
Along the way, the Warriors absorbed all kinds of blows. In the first half, it saw a T.J. Davis punt return for a touchdown called back for a questionable holding penalty, then watched Laquan Rouse return a fumble 90 yards for a TD to give the Cougars a 14-7 lead.
Liverpool kept shaking off the challenges, though, and drew even, 14-14, when Mike Buckenmeyer found a wide-open Mike Suatoni on an 11-yard TD pass just 46 seconds before halftime.
Sapps threatned to take over in the third quarter. He got open behind the Liverpool secondary and caught Darin Hickson's pass for a 45-yard TD in the third quarter to put Corcoran back in front. Then, following a Buckenmeyer interception, Sapps went 39 yards on another long play to set up a TD that made it 28-14.