The tears of joy or disappointment at the end of a football season at Carvers Bay are usually reserved for the state championship game.
They came a little early Friday night at Tiger Field.
The Bears fell to Hemingway 13-6 in overtime in the second round of the Class A Division I playoffs, failing to reach the state championship game for the first time in four seasons.
``It's very disappointing we didn't make it [to the Lower State final],'' Bears senior Davious Chestnut said. ``But everybody played a good game. Hemingway played a good game, and they just came out on top at the end.''
The Bears hopes of winning their fourth consecutive Lower State championship next week were stripped away when the ball was knocked from senior running back Clayton Geathers as he was being tackled at the 5-yard line on third down in overtime and was recovered by the Tigers.
``Our goal every year is to get to state, no matter what,'' Bears coach Nate Thompson said. ``That's just the way it is. My hat's off to my kids and my hat's off to [the Tigers]. They did a great job and hey, it's their turn.''
For the second consecutive season, the Bears (10-2) were attempting to knock their nearby rivals from the playoffs after losing to them in the regular season. Hemingway (11-1) beat Carvers Bay 7-6 earlier this season.
But it will be the Tigers making what head coach Ken Cribb says is their first trip to the Class A Lower State finals next week against the winner of the Lamar/Allendale-Fairfax game.
``It's always a nail-biter [with Carvers Bay] and we've had our heart broken by them several times when I thought we could have won,'' said Cribb, who enjoyed a post-game water cooler dousing by his team. ``. . . People don't understand how intense it is and how hard these kids get after it.
``I'm glad it's our turn to come out on top one time. We've hope we've gotten over the hump by winning one of these.''
The teams relied heavily on their go-to backs Friday. Hemingway's LaMichael Pushia gained 116 yards on 15 carries and scored both of his teams touchdowns - a 68-yarder in the first quarter and 1-yarder in overtime. Geathers, playing in just his fourth game of the year after recovering from an ankle injury, gained 132 yards on 25 carries and scored on a 23-yard run on fourth-and-three in the second quarter.
``In the first half we had [Geathers] stopped back there a couple times for losses and he just made great plays and broke tackles,'' Cribb said. ``In the second half we tackled a little better.''
Geathers ran over Hemingway defensive back Marquis Wright on a 4-yard run late in the third quarter, and Wright appeared to be knocked unconscious and remained on the field for 15 minutes before being placed on a stretcher and leaving in an ambulance. He rose his fist as he was being lifted into the ambulance.
``I told my coaching staff after he got hurt, `I said one of two things are going to happen, either we're going to catch fire or we're going to fall apart,' and our kids caught fire,'' Cribb said.
Both teams had drives stall near midfield late in the fourth quarter on fumbles, and the Bears' fourth fumble of the game in overtime was their final play of their season.
``I don't think you can ask anything better of any two teams tonight,'' Thompson said. ``You had an overtime and nobody wanted to give it up. They fought to the end and we fought to the end, and that's what football is supposed to be.''