As lopsided, 4 hour and 29 minute high school football games go, they don't get any better than the 56-14 victory by Colfax (Calif.)
over long-time rival Lincoln (Calif.)
on Friday night.
This one actually almost finished Saturday morning, at 11:59 p.m. to be exact, some 45 miles from where it began, at Lincoln High in front of almost 1,000 devoted and weary fans.
They weren't nearly as exhausted as the players and coaches, of course, who started, stopped, started, stopped, started and ultimately finished with a running clock to finish off this pre-Halloween treat.
Or was it a trick?
"I know I've never been a part of anything like it before," Colfax athletic director Rob Hitchcock said. "And I truly doubt I ever will again."
The culprit in this caper, of course, was a power outage, a stage-four Pacific Gas & Electric special in Colfax that slammed the lights pitch black on the then-home team's 13-0 lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter at approximately 8 p.m.
Screams could be heard throughout the 2,500 fans who started at the game but once dim emergency lights provided a glow, calmer minds and administrators knocked noggins.
Now what? They had to consider all the possibilities.
Do we wait for the lights to take full effect at approximately 10:30 p.m.? "No one wanted to risk that," Hitchcock said.
Play Saturday morning? Nope. Youth football leagues had the field.
Sunday? Can't play on the Sabbath. California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) rules prohibit it.
How about Monday? "That's Halloween," Hitchcock said. "Too much going on. Not a chance."
Well, someone could forfeit? "Absolutely not a chance," he said.
Finally, Lincoln athletic director Donna Tofft had a thought: Let's hightail it down Interstate 80 and finish the game off in Lincoln. No one was using the field. The power outage didn't affect the fastest growing city in the United States
Everyone – administrators, referees, medics and members of the chain gang - collectively shrugged: "Why not?"
By van, Chevy Suburban, pickup, convertible, family sedan and more, the 88 players, 150 parents, 50 officials/workers and some 600 fans convoyed down to the arch-rival.
As all the pieces fell into place and the players stretched on Lincoln's field at 10:15 p.m., Hitchcock fantasized about war history.
"I felt like Patton and we had moved the Third Army safely through the Battle of the Bulge," he said.
Strong fantasy to be sure, but the point was understood.
When Ben Rooker
booted home an extra point at 10:30 p.m., extending Colfax's lead to 14-0, this darkened, disjointed jigsaw puzzle of a football game had not only been pieced back together, but Hitchcock assumed, and likely correctly so, that a high school record had been broken.
"Longest elapsed time between a touchdown and extra point," he said.
Two hours and 31 minutes.
Colfax, a contender in the MaxPreps CIF State Bowl rankings
, would score much more rapidly over the next hour or so en route to its ninth straight win without a loss.
Quarterback Austin Young
passed for 252 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver David Mowbray
had four catches for 163 yards and a couple scores. Running back Hunter Perez
needed just seven carries to go for 167 yards and two more TDs.
For Lincoln (2-7), Davis Dykstra
and Jon Soto
scored touchdowns and Cameron Tatem
booted a couple extra points.
But of course, as the clock finally hit triple zeroes and all parties exchanged handshakes and embraces, Hitchcock said that everyone felt that they had crossed some sort of victory or touchdown line. All felt a part of something unique, like a fire drill at a water park or a spin class at a pizza parlor. It was a little odd, a lot unexpected and extremely innovative.
"Everyone had a part in just getting this done," he said. "There was a lot of flexibility and good communication and mutual respect to make it happen."
And a lot of bright lights.