The Central Catholic High Raiders charged onto the field, players and students alike, and turned Patton Field into a CC mosh pit.
They deserved to celebrate Friday night because, one year after an excruciating loss to St. Mary's, they avenged that agony with a 28-21 victory in the Holy Bowl.
"Last year we didn't finish," said tailback Ray Lomas, whose 161 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries carried the Central Catholic attack. "We wanted this one so bad. Tonight it happened."
The win will go down as an upset but it didn't look that way in the first half. CC (2-1) turned three St. Mary's turnovers into three touchdowns and a 28-7 halftime lead.
The Rams (2-1) rallied with two third-quarter touchdowns and reached the Central Catholic 33-yard line in the final minutes. But quarterback Kaleb Parrish (26-14-0--122 yards) missed connections on four straight passes downfield, and CC ran out the clock.
"Just a brutal first half," St. Mary's coach Tony Franks said. "We kept giving a good team like Central Catholic opportunities."
The victory, CC's first over the Rams since 2008, was well-earned. Central Catholic, behind Lomas' churning legs, outgained St. Mary's 306-122 and limited the Rams to only 10 net yards on the ground.
CC's defense was stout. The Raiders outhit the Rams behind John Mundt (defensive end), corner Joey Abbate, tackle Terrell Elder, Johnson at safety and others.
Lomas, one of Northern California's top wrestlers, runs like someone who doesn't like his back hitting the mat. He maxed out every carry, shook off a case of cramps in the third quarter, and finished, just like his team.
"Best back in the area," CC coach Roger Canepa praised.
On the game's first series, the Raiders' Tyler Johnson recovered a muffed punt at the St. Mary's 20. Four plays later, quarterback Garrett Ardis tossed over the middle to his angular tight end Mundt bound for Oregon 14 yards for the touchdown that jump-started Central Catholic.
"We had the energy. Anytime you beat St. Mary's, your team is playing hard," Canepa said. "We lost to a good team last week (Placer) and we had to make a statement, if not tonight then later."
St. Mary's drew even 7-7 on a 15-yard rip by Javon Wilson, but he was held to only 36 yards on 11 attempts. The Raiders answered with an 83-yard march capped by Lomas' 8-yard drive to the right.
Their momentum was sustained later in the half on a poor St. Mary's punt snap and a fumble. Lomas parlayed the errors into bursts of 14 and 4 yards into the end zone.
It could have been worse for St. Mary's in the first half. A 70-yard touchdown dash by Matthew Ringer was erased by penalty.
Much of St. Mary's "offense" was supplied by Brian Pacsqual, whose long kickoff returns shortened the field. The 6-foot-3 Parrish dove 1 yard for a touchdown, then found Matt Somers on a slant pass 8 yards for the score that made it a one-possession game late in the third period.
But it wasn't enough.
"You have to find out how you react to adversity," said Franks, who will regroup his team for next week's challenge against De La Salle. "The important thing is how you play at the end of the year."
But for Central Catholic, any win in the Holy Bowl counts big.