OKLAHOMA CITY — At the 40-yard line, bent double, Jamaal Betterson allowed emotion to overcome him.
Shortly thereafter, because Plainview coach Joe Price wanted to do something special for Betterson and his fellow seniors, underclassmen carried the seniors about 20 yards through a makeshift alley of supporters.
In the general vicinity of the south end zone, Plainview’s players commiserated with teammates, friends and fans.
No. 1 Heritage Hall 63, Plainview 21.
For the second consecutive season, the Chargers ended Plainview’s season in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs — and won their 23rd consecutive game.
In contrast, the prep football careers of Dylan Marr, Betterson, Cole Borin, Dorian Fagan, Cameron Selensky and Kam Spencer concluded.
“I feel devastated, honestly,” Betterson said. “This team has offered me so much: a family away from home, just that camaraderie in the locker room, I’m going to miss that a lot whenever I go to my next sport.
“I wouldn’t trade this team for anything. I love them to death.”
Mistakes are magnified in the playoffs. Against a team of Heritage Hall’s caliber, they can be fatal to a season.
The Chargers won the toss.
Plainview (9-3) running back Eli Paul fumbled on the Indians’ first play from scrimmage. Shortly thereafter, Heritage Hall scored its first touchdown.
On the Indians’ subsequent possession, punter Eli Paul attempted to catch an errant snap. He collected the ball, tossed it to Kobe Brewster, who couldn’t escape the Chargers’ defenders bearing down on him.
A play later, Dawson Evans took the toss and scored a six-yard touchdown behind the right side of the line.
Kicker Garrett McLaughlin had the wind at his back in the first and third quarters, which limited Plainview’s special teams’ opportunities.
On the Indians’ third possession, Plainview spread the field. Brewster completed a screen to Paul — against a linebacker with a clear path to Brewster — gained first-down yardage, but was nullified due to holding. On the third-down play, Heritage Hall’s team speed prohibited Brewster from rushing for necessary yardage.
Shortly thereafter, Tevin McDaniel scored a 37-yard touchdown via a screen pass from sophomore quarterback Blake Adams.
Paul had a tackle as the second quarter expired; the Chargers’ fourth-down conversion meant nothing.
Though the hosts led 42-7 at half, Plainview continued to fight.
The Indians continued to believe.
Indeed, as the Indians warmed for the second half, players audibly chanted “I believe that we will win!” and “We all in!”
Spencer Somerville intercepted a pass to deny the Chargers’ first second-half possession. Plainview took over on its own seven-yard line. Two and three plays later, respectively, Paul rushed for first downs behind right tackle Darren Benham and right guard Jon Wright.
Two plays later, Zane Hudson made a man miss on a third-down screen, but the hosts’ pursuit to the ball denied the Indians a third first down.
Heritage Hall scored on its subsequent possession.
The ball spotted at midfield, Hudson made a catch at the Chargers’ 20-yard line. Hudson made the catch despite the Chargers’ defensive back’s tardiness in turning to look for the ball, and scored easily.
At 6:03 in the final quarter, Brewster came out of the game for the final time. Somerville scored a 23-yard rushing touchdown with 28 seconds to play.
Dr. Virgil Trout offered the postgame prayer. There, Price addressed his team after its final game.
“It is a tough way to end the season,” he said. “You never want to end it with a loss. There’s only one team that’s going to be happy at the end of the year. That’s basically what I talked to them about.”
With 4:52 to play in the second quarter, Plainview sophomore receiver Ethan Herschler caught a screen pass from Brewster. The reception gained first-down yardage, but as Herschler fell forward, a Chargers defender tackled him a way that limited his movement for about 30 minutes.
At 7:54 p.m., those tending to him flipped him over onto his back.
About 17 minutes later, an ambulance entered the track. Herschler was loaded onto a backboard and driven from the field.
“When he left, he had all his feeling. He was moving around,” Price said. “I think it was mostly a precautionary deal. They’re going to do some X-rays, CAT scan and that kind of stuff just to make sure everything’s OK.”
Heritage Hall (12-0) quarterback Connor McGinnis graduated and walked on at the University of Oklahoma. The Chargers plugged in Adams, who has elite arm strength.
“Heritage Hall is a great team, obviously,” Betterson said. “You can’t take anything away from them.
“Our team clawed back, and they tried to fight, so I praise them for that.”