Scotty Dickmeyer screamed, "Get up!" as he walked along the South Western sideline, raising his arms and motioning for the Mustangs student section to rise and make more noise.
The red, white and blue-clad students did as the center and captain asked, standing up for the first time all game and cheering loudly to add to more noise to the loudest moment of Friday's game.
It was really the first — and only — time the Mustangs' faithful had something to cheer about in a 42-14 loss to Cedar Cliff. South Western had come out of halftime down 28-0, but Mike Farace's interception set up a touchdown pass from Brock Geiman to Noah Staub. And Skylar Bowman had just made a hard-hitting tackle on Colts quarterback Grant Breneman in the backfield.
Dickmeyer and the South Western crowd sensed the moment was now, with the Colts facing third-and-long. Two Mustangs defenders pursued Breneman, but the quarterback threw a screen pass to Mike Viti just before getting hit, and Viti broke a tackle and took the ball 63 yards to the end zone to put Cedar Cliff ahead, 35-7.
Dickmeyer and several other players dropped their heads and crouched down. The energy that had been building in the Mustang Corral for the past few minutes left the stadium like air fleeing a popped balloon.
That play epitomized the entire game for South Western, a small mistake — one missed tackle — that undid a promising sequence.
Those types of mistakes occurred throughout the game for the Mustangs. Noah Staub landed just barely outside the back of the end zone after catching a well-thrown pass from Brock Geiman in the second quarter. A fumble was returned by Cedar Cliff defensive end Manny De Los Santos for a touchdown. Geiman threw three interceptions, including one in the red zone.
But in between the mistakes that undid the Mustangs and allowed Cedar Cliff to win by 28 points, South Western coach Damian Poalucci saw plenty to be excited about.
"I'm not unhappy," he said. "I'm not happy we lost, but I'm excited about what I saw. In 18 years of coaching and playing since I was 6, I've been on the losing side plenty of times. But this might have been the best loss in a long time. We fought, we got better. We played against a real good football team that's gonna compete for districts, and if we can play like that and just clean up mistakes, we're gonna be fine."
He said the team's goals — a league, district and state title — are all within reach despite the loss. And neither he nor Geiman fears that the loss will stick with the Mustangs in future games.
"I'm not worried at all," Geiman said. "We played better than what the score says. These guys are very confident, and if any group could've taken that I think it's this group."
Cedar Cliff1414140—42South Western0077—14
CC — Jayden Demmy 7 run (Dominick Haley kick), 7:37.
CC — Demmy 22 run (Haley kick), 1:18.
CC — Manny De Los Santos 34 fumble return (Haley kick), 11:49.
CC — Demmy 19 pass from Grant Breneman (Haley kick), 4:11.
SW — Noah Staub 24 pass from Brock Geiman (Wes Sneeringer kick), 10:14.
CC — Mike Viti 63 pass from Breneman (Haley kick), 8:04.
CC — Chris Thompson 1 run (Haley kick), 4:14.
SW — Nigel Williams 21 run (Sneeringer kick), 5:52.
CCSWFirst downs1517Rushes-yards30-14030-137Passing9-12-111-23-3Passing yards169144Total yards309281Punts0-03-28.3Fumbles-lost1-11-1Penalties-yards2-302-10
Rushing — CC, Jayden Demmy 14-108, Grant Brenemen 3-(-1), Chris Thompson 5-10, Bobby Whalen 1-(-5), Mike Dubas 7-28. SW, Tyler Fulmore 7-21, Zack Hughes 5-17, Brock Geiman 4-(-9), DeSean Crump 4-2, Jacob Muir 3-26, Nigel Williams 5-61, Carson Perry 1-11, Mike Johnson 1-8.
Passing — CC, Breneman 8-10-1-159, Whalen 1-1-0-10. SW, Geiman 11-23-3-144.
Receiving — CC, Manny De Los Santos 1-38, Tre Neal 2-22, Cole Whalen 1-4, Chandler Heiple 1-8, Mike Viti 2-70, Trysten McDonald 1-17, Justin Carter 1-10. SW, Noah Staub 5-85, Hughes 2-26, Crump 1-10, Jeff Green 3-23.