The entire West High football squad bolted from its sideline and excitedly dog-piled teammate Donta Mason.
There was little doubt as to who the hero was for the Vikings in their 42-35 overtime playoff victory over Highland on Thursday night.
Mason scored four touchdowns and had three interceptions including the game clincher in OT as No. 10 West (6-4) downed No. 7 Highland (9-2) in Central Section Division III first-round action.
"My team, they always tell me that they look up to me and I just try to be the best player I can be," Mason said.
West will face No. 2 Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial in the quarterfinals next Friday.
The Vikings took the lead early and never trailed but had to hold off a late Highland drive deep into West territory to send the game to overtime.
West got the ball first in OT and scored on a second-and-10 play from the 14, when Mason took a handoff on a reverse and raced into the end zone.
Highland tried to respond marching the ball down to the eight yardline. But on third down, Scots' quarterback Cade Sakamoto threw a high pass over the middle into the end zone that Mason jumped up and deflected and then caught, ending the game.
"It could have gone either way but we just made one more play than they did," West coach Derrick Dunham said. "I'm just proud of the boys for making that play."
Mason finished with 44 yards rushing on eight carries. He also caught two passes for 41 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown.
"We're lucky to have Dontae at our school," Dunham said. "We are very very fortunate. He makes plays."
Highland battled back from a 14-point deficit to make the game a thriller.
"We couldn't be prouder of our guys," Highland coach Michael Gutierrez said. "After the hole we put ourself in, to come back and fight and push the game there. They didn't didn't give up. They just kept pushing and gave ourselves a chance to win the game. That's all we could ask for."
West led 28-21 at halftime. The difference in the first half was turnovers. Highland committed two, both by Sakamoto, while the Vikings had none.
On the game's first play from scrimmage Sakamoto floated a pass in the left flat that Mason intercepted and returned for a 40 yard touchdown.
It was the first of three first-half touchdown by the 6-foot-4, 220 pound running back/outside linebacker.
During the second quarter Mason scored on back-to-back possessions to give the Vikings a 14-point advantage after Highland fought back to tie the score on a 1 -ard Sakamoto quarterback sneak late in the first period.
Mason capped off West's first series of the second quarter by hauling in a 24-yard pass down the right sideline from Gabriel Salcido for a touchdown.
Less than three minutes later, after Sakamoto fumbled the ball away on attempted handoff deep in Highland end of the field, Mason plowed through the right side of the line of scrimmage for a 4-yard touchdown run to extend the Vikings lead to 28-14.
Sakamoto made up partially for his two-first half miscues firing a pair of touchdown passes.
He found Anthony Ramirez for a 43-yard score to draw the Scots even 7-7 early in the game. Late in the first half he cut the West lead to 28-21 on a 24- yard TD pass to Nick Salas