HILTON HEAD ISLAND -- As Chip Mullen ran toward the end zone -- his eyes wider with each step -- teammates began to join him on his march toward glory.
The 40, the 30, the 20.
A convoy of Hilton Head players surrounded him. They, too, wanted to take part in the remarkable moment.
The 10, the 5. Touchdown.
Mullen dropped the ball. He held his hands in the air. You couldn't miss his smile.
The Seahawks celebrated as they hugged their teammate, a senior who has Down syndrome. Their opponent, Berkeley High, rushed onto the field to shake Mullen's hand.
And at least for a moment, the distractions of a season filled with turmoil seemed to disappear.
The horn sounded. The Seahawks lost the game, 31-20, and Berkeley took the Region 7-AAA opener.
But this night suddenly belonged to Chip Mullen.
"That just about makes your heart bleed," a Berkeley fan said. "I want to shake that young man's hand."
Berkeley fell behind 7-0 for most of the first half before scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes of the second quarter, which the Stags used to pull away for the 11-point victory.
Berkeley's Greg Butler scored on a 7-yard carry -- his only rush -- to tie the score with 1:36 left in the opening half.
And then the wheels fell off for the Seahawks (2-4, 0-1 region).
Trying to run out the final minute of the clock, the Seahawks fumbled the snap, the Stags (2-4, 1-0) picked it up, scored on the ensuing play -- a 15-yard pass from Matthew Harkness to Dylan Baker -- and took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
Diamante Harley added to the lead when he returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Harley had a punt return in the first half called back for holding. He later scored on a 2-yard rush.
"I was frustrated when that got called back. Pretty disappointed," Harley said. "I wanted another shot, and I got one. I wanted to make it count."
HH--Khalil Lewis 2 run (Mott kick)
B--Greg Butler 7 run (Nick Hill kick)
B--Dylan Baker 15 pass from Matthew Harkness (Nick Hill kick)
B--Diamante Harley 95 kickoff return (Nick Hill kick)
B--Hill 31 field goal
HH--Adam Orischak 42 pass from Michael Julian (Mott kick)
B--Harley 2 run (Nick Hill kick)
HH--Chip Mullen 65 fumble return