The fans on the Mineral County side of the field knew something special was happening during the second half of the Serpents' game against top-ranked Coleville on Friday night.
As Mineral County first chipped away at a 10-point deficit, then eventually took a 10-point lead of its own, more and more Serpent supporters made their way out of the stands and down to the school's track or the edge of the grass field. Their vocal support went from enthusiastic to just short of hysterical as Mineral County held off the visiting Wolves, 48-42, to finish in second place in Division IV North West League and qualify for the state playoffs.
More than one stunned Mineral County fan called it "the biggest win in school history" as coaches, players and fans celebrated in the south end zone.
"To be down by 10 points and have the kids just fight, fight, fight ... that's huge," Mineral County coach Marty Waggoner said.
"In the past, Mineral County might have some mental breakdowns at that point. But they stood tough tonight."
With the win, Mineral County wrapped up its regular season at 7-2 and forced a three-way tie in the West Division. The Serpents, Coleville and Virginia City all finished 3-1 in league games, with Virginia City claiming the tiebreaker to gain a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs. Previously unbeaten Coleville finished 8-1, but lost at exactly the wrong time and will miss the playoffs.
The Serpents trailed 30-20 at halftime and looked like they might get run off their own home field by a Coleville offense that was mixing big plays with a steady diet of first downs. But a more focused and better-executing Mineral County team took the field in the second half. Running back William Middleton scored on runs in the early and late part of the third quarter to put the Serpents in front by 4. They never trailed again.
Middleton ran 28 times for 276 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Jacob Park rushed 22 times for 217 yards for Coleville. He also took a screen pass 63 yards for a score to cut the Serpents' lead to 40-36 with 8 minutes left. But the Wolves would get no closer.
"Two-three years ago, Coleville beat us by like 128-30," Waggoner said. "They have a history of really owning us. I think we showed some of that in the first half with our nerves. At halftime, we just talked about containment and coverage and the kids responded."