"I taught him how to be his own coach, and how to gain confidence."

The rest is history.

Last week, as he readied to kick with one second left in the game, Lachman said he felt "a weird sense of calm. As soon as I kicked it, I knew it was good. I was celebrating before it went through [the uprights]."

It was Lachman's 16th field goal in 21 attempts and his longest boot this year.

On the sideline, teammates strained to look - or closed their eyes.

"I couldn't watch the kick," defensive end and co-captain Glenn Rocca said. "I knew he'd make it, but I turned away. It just felt like the right thing for me to do - and it worked."

"I trusted Alex to make it, I really did," said Dan Crowley, Hopkins' star receiver.

"He's not that big a guy [6-feet, 200 pounds], but his leg is unbelievably strong. Put the ball anywhere under 50 yards and I trust him. Attempting that kick was definitely better than trying a 'Hail Mary' pass."

Lachman called the kick payback for his having botched a last-ditch 38-yard attempt against Ursinus in October that cost Hopkins a victory.

"This was the ultimate redemption," he said.

Afterward, he was buried on the field beneath an avalanche of Blue Jays, everyone but the coach who was tangled up on the sideline.

"My head set was tied to my field pass and I couldn't get it off," Margraff said. "But watching these guys pile up was a beautiful thing. For them to be that cool and collected on the last drive was a testament to what this team has done all year."

The ripple effect of Hopkins' victory began quickly. As he trotted to the jubilant locker room, Margraff said, "my cell phone started binging and bonging like crazy. I must have had 40 text messages before I got inside."

One note, from a 60-year-old Hopkins' alumnus, especially touched him.

"The man said he was listening to the game [on the Internet] and that he had tears in his eyes when the kick sailed through the uprights," Margraff said.

Stover, meanwhile, is tickled at the success of his protege.

"Am I proud of Alex? More than proud," Stover said. "But I'm not surprised.

"I knew he had it in him."

Division III quarterfinals