Even though fireworks were going off, the scoreboard was 26-16 in his team's favour and the 1,000-plus fans on site were cheering "Hyacks", New Westminster head football coach Farhan Lalji was muttering that he'd just gone through "one of the worst games he's ever coached in."
Five turnovers, two touchdowns called back and almost three hours of sloppy football were the negatives, but overall, the night was a success, with the home team winning and Homecoming showing off the best of the Hyacks' recent 10-year football history.
"We took too many penalties and we hadn't done that in our first two games," said Lalji. "For our kids, I'm disappointed with the number of turnovers and penalties. We can't continue that and expect to have any chance against our upcoming Triple A games.
"It was our worst effort of the year and we'll have to get better and that starts this week in practice."
The Hyacks fell behind 3-0 to the plucky Eagles, as kicker Conor O'Callaghan booted a rarely-seen 42-yard field goal to give the visitors an early lead.
The Hyacks then took the lead on a Tristan Sands five-yard touchdown reception from Tommy Robertson that was set up by a 23-yard run by Aldrin Asuncion. After the Hyacks missed the convert, members of New Westminster's community football team did push-ups in the south end of the stadium as mock punishment for the miss.
Also rarely seen was the Hyacks' next two points, as they blocked an O'Callaghan punt that the Eagles recovered in their own end zone for a New Westminster safety.
The Hyacks took the lead for good when Julian Ramirez followed up his 47-yard run up the middle with a five-yard touchdown run.
After a succession of muffed points and fourth-down failures by both teams, the key moment in the game occurred when Hyacks lineman Jonathan He sacked Eagles quarterback Mo Mohseni on a blindside hit that took the Eagles QB out of the game.
"I have to give big props to James Nicolas on that play," said He. "When their QB went back to throw, James jumped the play and that's what gave me the time to get in on him. ... It was probably the biggest hit I've ever put on a guy."
Mohseni had to leave the game and on the next play, backup quarterback Mike Worthen was taken down and hurt his ankle, meaning the Eagles had to resort to third quarterback Liam Doll to finish up the game.
The teams then exchanged touchdowns for the rest of the game, with Asuncion's 10-yard TD run with four minutes left in the third quarter followed by Carson Graham's Keishon Ross taking a 10-yard Doll pass for a touchdown.
The Hyacks answered with a Nicolas 30-yard TD run and then on the last play of the game, Eagle A.J. Blackwell ran for 42 yards to make the final score 26-16 New Westminster.
Eagles head coach John Buchanan said Mohseni fell on the ball and Worthen's ankle injury will probably mean they're both questionable for next week's game.
"I don't think I've ever had to go to my third quarterback before tonight," said Buchanan. "Their line controlled both sides of the ball and they did a good job."
Buchanan was also impressed with the entire Homecoming atmosphere of Friday night's match.
"What a great job they did," he said. "I looked around and I saw how much they've put into tonight."
And as good a job as Friday night's result was, the Hyacks know they have to do better against Mt. Boucherie on the road this Friday.
"We have things to fix up," said Ramirez. "Our coaches told us after the game that we'd better be ready for Monday (practice)."
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