Ridgeview coach Dennis Manning took off his headset. Kamari Cotton-Moya, the Wolf Pack's star quarterback, sobbed quietly on the sideline. Hundreds of texts and tweets went out from Ridgeview, proclaiming an Independence victory.
But, to steal a line, reports of the Wolf Pack's demise were greatly exaggerated.
It took a blocked punt, a field goal from a backup kicker and a late interception -- all in the final 20 seconds -- but Ridgeview somehow beat Independence 30-28 on Friday night to advance to the Central Section Division III championship game for the second consecutive year.
The Wolf Pack will play host to No. 2 Dinuba at 7 p.m. Friday, looking for the program's first section title.
"I'll tell you one thing," Manning said afterward, still not quite believing his team was celebrating around him.
"We've got to be very thankful we're still playing."
Ridgeview (10-2) trailed 28-27 when Cotton-Moya lost a fumble with 1:06 left inside the Independence 20. The Wolf Pack had only one timeout remaining, so Independence coach Sean McKeown ran down from the press box, certain the Falcons could end the game with three kneel-downs. He even checked the arithmetic in his head