With just seconds left on the clock, the high school football team in Newtown, Connecticut, scored a winning touchdown during the state championship game — on the same day as the massacre that left 26 people dead in their town seven years prior.
Newtown Nighthawks senior wide receiver Riley Ward scored the touchdown just as time expired, ending the game with a 13-7 victory over the Darien Blue Wave, according to The Washington Post.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Ward told the Hartford Courant after the game. “I love this town. I love everybody. I’m at a loss for words.”
The Post reported that the crowd erupted in cheers after Ward’s touchdown, swarming the field as Ward threw his helmet into the air in celebration. Spectators who were at the game described the incredible moment as “surreal” and “amazing.”
“It was surreal,“ Pete Paguaga told CNN. “It was a movie ending. I’m still searching for words to process what I saw.“
“Seven years ago in Newtown, CT was an unspeakably awful day. 7 years to the day, kids from that town and school did this,” sportscaster Scott Van Pelt tweeted. “Sports are amazing sometimes.”
The win marked Newtown High School’s first state championship since 1992, according to CNN.
Several of the players on the team attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, the location of the 2012 massacre, and one of the players had a brother who was killed in the shooting, the Post reported, which also noted that Newtown supporters came to the game wearing bold green, Sandy Hook’s school color.
Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed in the massacre on Dec. 14, 2012.
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