STORY CITY - Down 3 points, 90 yards to go, a shade over 4 minutes on the clock, a new head coach on the sideline and a still-learning quarterback under center.
It couldn't have been scripted any better.
What probably looked impossible to some spectators culminated in jubilation on the South Hamilton sideline here Friday night, as the Hawks pulled off a last-second touchdown to stun rival Roland-Story, 6-3, during Week 1 of the prep football season.
Junior quarterback Matt Hislop orchestrated the highlight reel march, so it was only fitting he ended it with a 13-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Triston Twedt in the right corner of the end zone as time expired.
"I'm just so proud of the guys," TJ Schaefer, South Hamilton's first-year head coach, said after what will certainly be a memorable opening foray in Hawk fatigues. "As excitement and intensity go, you probably can't get much better than this, and afterwards I was just standing there staring. I couldn't believe it."
Hislop completed 6-of-10 passes for 69 yards, and he rushed for the other 21 yards during the game-winning drive. The touchdown toss was the capper, but a 13-yard completion to Trevor Ullestad on fourth-and-9 from the Hawks own 35 earlier in the series gave South Hamilton (1-0) the confidence it needed to send the Norsemen (0-2) home dejected.
South Hamilton0 0 0 6-6
Roland-Story0 0 0 3-3
R-S - FG Charlie Steenhagen 20, 4:06
SH - Triston Twedt 13 pass from Matt Hislop, 0:00.
Rushing - SH: Matt Hislop 17-77, Devin Howard 12-71, Lane Heinlein 6-27, Sam Waid 5-12. R-S: Evan Johnson 9-54, Charlie Steenhagen 11-62, Josiah Soderstrum 6-24, Andrew Schlatter 3-15, Joe Gast 3-12.
Passing - SH: Hislop 13-25-2 191. R-S: Johnson 2-3-0 30.
Receiving - SH: Justin Shepherd 4-47, Triston Twedt 2-37, Trevor Ullestad 3-49, Howard 2-34, John Hegland 1-17, Waid 1-6. R-S: Steenhagen 1-18, Soderstrum 1-12.
Tackles - SH: Waid 8.5, Jacob Haugland 7.5, Cody Thompson 5, Shepherd 4, Heinlein 3.5, Hunter Griffin 3.5, Lucas Olson 3, Garrett Underwood 2, Twedt 1.5, John Hegland 1.5, Garrett Evans 1, Josh Lutter 1, Howard .5
"Hislop was just amazing on that last drive. He kept his cool and he was a lot calmer than I was," Schaefer said. "But the fourth down conversion was huge; Trevor Ullestad came up with a big grab and without that the game is done, and that's kind of when we got the momentum and started to realize we were going to drive down the field."
Eight ticks remained when the Hawks broke the huddle and went four wide from the Roland-Story 13. Hislop rolled to his right after avoiding pressure and caught sight of Twedt just as the slot receiver cut off his slant route and broke for the back corner of the end zone. Hislop lofted a strike to the wide open Twedt, and pandemonium ensued.
"We ran a slant and go with our slot guys, what we call slice," Schaefer said. "As soon as Matt rolled out he saw Triston and there wasn't anybody within 5 yards of him."
Hislop completed 13-of-25 passes for 191 yards and the one score in his 2012 debut. He also rushed for a team-high 77 yards on 17 carries. Devin Howard chewed up 71 yards on 12 totes.
Justin Shepherd snared four of Hislop's passes that covered 47 yards. Ullestad had three grabs for 49 yards, Twedt two for 37.
South Hamilton accumulated 378 yards of total offense, compared to just 197 for the Norsemen. The Hawks also came up with five sacks; Shepherd reached Roland-Story quarterback Evan Johnson three times, Josh Lutter and Garrett Underwood both had one.
"The stats show that we just absolutely dominated, but we couldn't finish," Schaefer said. "We probably should have been up by 28 points, but we just couldn't finish drives."
South Hamilton turned the ball over twice inside the Norsemen 5 - once on a fumble and once on an interception - and another drive stalled at the Roland-Story 3 after Hislop failed to connect on a pass on fourth-and-goal.
The Norsemen eventually capitalized on the gifts and took a 3-0 lead on a 20-yard Charlie Steenhagen field goal with 4:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. Johnson scampered 47 yards down the field a few plays earlier to get Steenhagen in field goal range.
For the most part though, South Hamilton's defense was in complete control. The unit limited Roland-Story to just three first-quarter yards.
"The defense played outstanding," Schaefer said. "There were a lot of unsung heroes out there that did their jobs; our kids followed their responsibilities.
"Sam Waid had a heck of a ballgame on defense, and Lucas Olson at safety, he was fantastic. We were literally asking him to guard two guys and he stepped up."
Waid put his nose in on three solo tackles, and he assisted on 11 others. Jacob Haugland had 7.5 total stops, Cody Thompson had five and Olson three.
South Hamilton will look for the same outcome, although Schaefer would like it to be a little less dramatic, on Friday when the Hawks make their season debut at home against Woodward-Academy (0-1) at 7 p.m. Woodward Academy dropped a 16-13 decision to Southeast Webster-Grand on Friday.