COLUMBIA — Isaiah Schauer was making his slow walk to the Hickman locker room, his helmet masking the tears in his eyes. His father's arm was draped around him.
David Schauer stopped his son by stepping in front of him. He put his arms around Isaiah's neck, and his face up to his face mask.
"I know how he is," David Schauer said. "He's tougher on himself than anybody."
It was 4th-and-2 moments ago on LeMone Field, with the Kewpies driving against Jefferson City and clinging on to hope with less than a minute of the game remaining, down by seven. There was 35 yards to go to the end zone, and senior quarterback Mason Murray looked to the player he found regularly for three straight first down catches before.
Isaiah Schauer once again made himself open. He was slanting across the field. Murray slung it to him.
"All I remember was just seeing the ball," Isaiah Schauer said.
It hit his hands, his chest, and then the ground. Schauer dropped. He was face down on his knees and fists for nine seconds.
The scoreboard showed Jefferson City 40, Hickman 33. And then it flashed off.
Schauer had been nursing an ankle sprain and a deep bone bruise in his leg for three weeks. Friday night was his first game back.
"I was pumped," Isaiah Schauer said. "I was excited to get back on the field, make some plays."
In the first quarter, the Kewpies claimed a 14-12 lead on a two-yard touchdown from senior Justise Keith. It was set up after Schauer tore down field on a 60-yard punt return.
Later, with 3:42 left in the game, Hickman's late rally started when Schauer secured a 20-yard touchdown pass from Murray to cut the Jefferson City's lead to five.
"I like to make plays," Isaiah Schauer said. "And whenever I don't, it just gets to me."
Making plays like such has been what he's loved about football since playing flag football as a kindergartner.
The feeling of letting down the seniors, he said, was the reason for his pain.
"That I let my team down, all the seniors," Isaiah Schauer said.
"He's so focused on making sure he doesn't let his teammates down, and that's what killed him tonight," his father said. "If it would have been his senior year, it probably wouldn't have been as (hard for him). But it's the others guys' senior year ... and that's what kills him."
He lied on the ground for nine seconds.
Senior running back Bohannon Davidson jogged out to him from the sideline. He put his arms around him. And then came Murray, putting his face mask to his. Others came around him.
Nine seconds ago was behind them, in the past.
Later on the field, coach Arnel Monroe stood with him.
"Things happen. You throw the ball and he didn't make the play and he will next time," Monroe said. "I have the utmost faith in him."
Schauer kept his helmet on as Monroe spoke to the team in the locker room.
"There's a lot of football ahead of us. There's a lot of football ahead of us," Monroe said. "Don't quit, don't stop fighting. Don't stop fighting."
"I'll forget about it," Isaiah Schauer said. "This will motivate me to get out there and work even harder."
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.