Determination and a thirst for blood registered in the Tannerville kicker's eyes. Once he dropped his hand, signaling to his fellow Titans, he booted the ball downfield, sending his teammates out to crush the receiving Jaguar. Tumbling end over end, the leather pigskin flew through the air, and Titan red barreled downfield chasing it.
On the receiving end, Kobe Henderson, Jaguar star running back and kick return specialist, caught the ball off a hop and started across the field. As Titan red swarmed after him, he cut back left and threw them off balance. A hole opened. He wrapped two arms around the ball, tipped his head down, and barreled through. Helmets knocked; grunting bodies hit the turf; and blocks were made. Through the hole, a charging Titan leveled him clear off his feet.
Just like that, the game began. Players were already gritting teeth, swallowing dirt, and spitting words at the opponent. The Jaguar offense – fresh with clean uniforms – assumed the field while the Titan defense hit each other with celebratory head-butts.
Three downs later, the Jaguar offense, seeing nothing but red jerseys, was forced to punt. Recovering at their own 35-yard-line, the Titan offense marched onto the field like marines. They huddled at the 20, set the play, and lined up at scrimmage.
"Hut! Hut!" called Titan quarterback, Bobby Ross. On the third hut the ball was snapped. Falling back into the pocket with the front line blocking, Bobby scanned the field for a receiver.
For one Jaguar linebacker, a hole opened. Like a maddened bull pawing the ground being teased by the red jersey, he charged through the hole. At the last second, Bobby saw the encroaching black jersey and moved. But it was too late. The Jaguar slammed Bobby to the ground as Bobby was in motion to throw. Fumble! The ball popped from his hand and bounced to the ground. Jaguar fans went wild, stretching the sound barrier with unparalleled emotion. They stood and pumped their fists, all taunts directed at the opposition and their fans.
Titan fans objected. Hank, situated in the last row, jumped to his feet. "Bull shit!" he retaliated. "Open your eyes ref … the quarterback's arm was in motion!" In disgust, he spit over the back of the railing. He grew silent and his face paled.
The next Jaguar snap from scrimmage, Hank, the chief Titan fan, burst at the seams like a college fraternity brother after drinking all day long. "Off-sides! He was off-sides!" Warm yellow liquid sloshed from his cup. It splashed three rows down. He returned to his seat and added another suggestion, "Open your eyes ref. You suck!"
"Hey, F-you, man," came from a Jaguar fan on the opposite side. "Sit down and watch the game … white trash!" Terrell glanced at his brother seated to his left and put up a congratulatory five, which Jamal happily slapped. Hank ignored slur, took another gulp of beer, and dispatched for another trip to the bushes.
The first quarter ended in a scoreless tie. The Titans returned a punt to the Jaguar 40-yard-line. After calling a play, quarterback Bobby Ross toed the line of scrimmage with his linebackers. "Hut-hut!" The ball snapped. Faking a handoff, he boot-legged to the side and scanned the field, and scanned, then threw a perfect spiral across the field to a cutting wide receiver, who caught the ball and, not seeing a black jersey or face in front of him, ran in for a touchdown. Healthy color returned to Hank's white face and all the others in the Titan fan club while a dismal pale, matching their opponents, set in the black faces of the Jaguar fans.
Then the point after attempt was blocked, giving them reason to hope again.
Titans 6 – Jaguars 0
On the ensuing kickoff, the Titans charged downfield with renewed enthusiasm. Courage beamed from their predominantly blue and hazel and green eyes. Like killer bees, they swarmed the right side of the field.
Jaguar kickoff return man, Kobe Henderson, one-hopped the ball, looked up field, and cut across. Sprinting for the opposite sideline, he avoided an onslaught of red jerseys. Quick on his feet, he broke a tackle, then another, and pranced down the sideline in the clear. Over midfield, he continued to the 40, the 30, until finally the Titan kicker pushed him out of bounds.
That's when the two-minute warning before halftime came. Using the extra breather to their advantage, the Jaguar offense returned to the sidelines to rest. Coach Abrams gave the play, and when the ref signaled the offense jogged back out.
The fans went wild; they attempted to provide that extra push their team needed. And the band added more support. With enthusiasm, they drilled out an inspiring knock-em-dead tune. Holland fans cheered louder. "Jaguars! Jaguars! Go-o-o Jaguars!"
Fighting back, the Titan band played the same rah-rah song, but louder. And Tannerville fans cheered. "Defense! Defense!" Then, just before the snap, the bands exchanged choice words, previously reserved by the JD brothers on one side and Hank on the other.
Two short plays later, the Jaguars capitalized with a Kobe Henderson run up the middle. The extra point attempt was good.
Jaguars 7 – Titans 6
The clock ticked down to zero.