The reaction was catatonic, then cathartic.
A Potomac Falls field goal flew toward the uprights before bouncing off the bottom crossbar. The kick was no good. Overtime was over.
After 11 losses over two years, Champe won its first football game, 10-7, Thursday night at home. The Knights (1-1) never had to celebrate before.
“It was like disbelief, and then all the sudden disbelief turned to reality,” Coach Jason Dawson said.
“They were so enjoying the moment . . . It’s the utter picture of what happiness, what sheer joy is supposed to look like. I never got a Christmas present and felt that way.”
Dawson embraced the first person he saw and didn’t let go. He repeated the same four words.
“All I kept saying was, ‘I won a game. I won a game.’ ”
The coach had asked the athletic department that in the event of a win, all family and friends who wanted to rejoice with the team would be allowed to storm the field.
Offensive and defensive lineman Ben Mertan shot his arms skyward, hugged everyone in sight and kissed his mother.
Middle linebacker Stephen Young, who made a tackle for a loss on the Panthers’ first snap of overtime, shared the moment with his father.
Then they wept.
“Everybody cried,” Mertan said. “I remember I cried. It was two years of hard work, and we finally won on an overtime game.”
“I was crying with my dad and crying with my coaches,” Young said. “I’m not much of a crier.”
The Knights had not come within more than 16 points of a win until last week. They played a scoreless game until six seconds remained in the third quarter, when running back Andrew Bushrod zipped behind Alex Rearden’s block downfield for a 75-yard touchdown run.
Another Bushrod run set up William Nichols for a 23-yard field goal in the opening possession of overtime.
Postgame tears signified the toll of 2012 and the exaltation of winning.
In its inaugural season, Champe had a 41-man football team with no seniors. Before moving into their own weight room, the Knights had to pump iron at Freedom-South Riding.
“We were the wrong end of a lot of jokes,” Young said.
On Thursday night, Young went home wired on adrenaline. He said he watched the game film “five or six times” before getting virtually no sleep.
Mertan said his hands were still shaking when he got home from the game. While normally he’s asleep as soon as his head hits his pillow, he layed awake for hours on Thursday.
On Friday, they walked into school winners.
Around the area
Dominion earned its first win of the season on the ground. Chad Smith had nine carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Donnie Gasser also punched in two scoring runs, and the Titans rushed for 370 yards in a 42-20 victory over Freedom-South Riding. . . . Loudoun County could not match No. 6 Briar Woods, falling 35-3.