LAWRENCEVILLE - After shaking hands with Archer, the Mountain View players gathered in their end zone and before half of them were there, head coach Tim Hardy ran into the standing huddle and told his players to thank their large away crowd.
The team bolted, helmets in the air, with a pre-game urgency toward the bleachers. They traded cheers and handshakes with the students and parents, seemingly all decked in the black and gold of Mountain View. When they reached the end of the away side stands the team just kept running. And running.
A hoarse Hardy used the last of his vocal power to call them back.
"We don't know what to do with a win," Hardy said.
It was the first "new team" thing the players did all night. On either team.
Mountain View used a furious third quarter to build a big enough lead over host Archer for a 29-22 win on Friday. But Friday was about more than just a win and a loss. Friday was about beginning. Beginning tradition. Beginning pride. Beginning a rivalry. Beginning a program.
Both teams started well.
There were first touchdowns: Mountain View's Dadriane Smith, Archer's Mychal Hines.
First leads: First the Bears, then the Tigers.
First runs, passes, catches, turnovers and penalties.
There was more good than bad.
Archer learned it had a versatile quarterback in Jarvis Holley, who threw for 162 yards and ran for 28. His second scoring pass came with 38 seconds left in the game.
"He is still learning the quarterback position," Archer head coach Andy Dyer said. "He hung in there when there wasn't much left in the tank."
Mountain View learned its quarterback, Charlie Brower, fulfills every position the roster lists him as playing. Along with his touchdown pass, he added a one-yard dive, made all three extra point attempts and put two kickoffs in the end zone.
"Charlie really did it all," Hardy said. "He has great energy and a desire to win."
Both teams got 100-plus yard rushing nights; Archer 109 from Mychal Hines and Mountain View 106 from Dadriane Smith.
Each defense forced a turnover and both teams converted a two-point try. There were only 16 total penalties, mostly coming during plays.
"It was a well-played football game," Hardy said. "For two first-year teams it was pretty good football."
The closeness of the game only added to the rivalry of the two schools that will forever be linked by their common birth as new schools this month. "Mountain Who" T-shirts dotted the Archer crowd and chants of "Let's Go Bears" echoed from the visitor's side.
"This was the start of a rivalry between the two of us," Hardy said.
The game hinged on a third quarter that started 22 unanswered Bears' points. Mountain View opened the second half with an eight-play, 85-yard drive that ended with Brower diving into the end zone from a yard out. The Bears forced and Archer punt and Marvin Elam bobbled the kick, but recovered to break three tackles and fire down the sideline for 81 yards and a touchdown. Mountain View scored with 9:01 left in the fourth, nearly sealing Archer's fate. But the Tigers attempted a comeback with a late touchdown, but failed to recover the onside kick.
"I am so proud of our effort and the way we fought and scrapped," Dyer said. "The mistakes were critical."
And for the players, on each side, the singularity of Friday's game easily eclipsed the significance of the game.
The coaches too.
"I don't like to lose," Dyer said.