Bluffton wrestling coach John Hollman saw the bright lights on the scoreboard. He knew his team's shot at opening region play with a win was starting to slip away, as the Bobcats trailed rival Battery Creek by 17 with five weight classes to go.
"When it started seperating, I called everybody in and said, 'Guys, it's starting to get away a little bit. Let's reel it back in,'" Hollman recalled. "Our young guys and our leaders got there, grabbed everybody by the ear and said, 'We've got to step it up, we've got to fire it up.'
"Collectively, everybody got a little more intense."
It showed on the floor. Sparked by Lloyd Williams' pin of Caleb Weaver a minute into the first period of their 113-pound match, the Bobcats rallied to down the Dolphins, 39-36, in the Region 7-AAA opening match for both teams.
"It's huge," Williams said of the victory. "It sets the bar high for us. We've got to go out and try to win the region now."
Bluffton (6-2, 1-0) knew that Battery Creek had some impressive wrestlers toward the middle of the match, highlighted by heavyweight David Ratliff. But Hollman realized the Bobcats would still have a chance to recover once they got to the lighter weights.
"Our low-middle weights are the strength of our lineup," he said. "I really practice and preach that a match is never over. As long as we still have weight classes to wrestle and it doesn't get too far away from us, we have a chance."
Bluffton would go on to win the next three matches following Williams' pin, two of which -- Levi Joly at 120 and Austin Farmer at 132 -- came on pins of their own. Joly pinned Battery Creek's Mike Woodrift with seven seconds remaining in the first period while Farmer pinned Wayne Cooke 36 seconds into his match.
"All it took was for us to start reeling off a couple wins," Hollman said. "We just continued feeding off the momentum and it became like a ball rolling down a hill. It just steamrolled."
Battery Creek had a chance to tie the match at 39-all in the final weight class had Josh Green been able to pin down Alex Waddell at 138, but the Dolphins would have lost in the end on a tiebreaker because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Green.
"For our team to win a match like that, it motivates us to do better," said Bluffton's Harry Chirinos (170), who pinned Braden Smith. "We'll work harder, keep doing what we're doing right now and hopefully we go to state. That's our goal."
Williams got most of the attention following the crucial victory, where both teams entered ranked among the top 15 teams in Class 3-A, according to scmat.com. Battery Creek and Bluffton entered at Nos. 12 and 13, respectively.
"I have questioned his toughness and tenacity throughout the course of the year so far," Hollman said of Williams. "He just hasn't been wrestling real tough, physical, aggressive and mean. ... He went out there physical, tough and intense. That's the Lloyd we know."
"I knew I couldn't lose," Williams added. "I just had to give it my all."
The focus of both teams now turns to dual tournaments, as Bluffton heads to Columbia to take part in the Dreher Invitational today and Saturday while Battery Creek hosts the Coach Trap Memorial Tournament.
Bluffton 39, Battery Creek 36
Note: Match started at 145
106: Chris Bockelman (BC) beat Nick Stead
113: Lloyd Williams (Bluffton) pinned Caleb Weaver, 1st period
120: Levi Joly (Bluffton) pinned Mike Woodrift, 1st period
126: Waner Velasquez (Bluffton) tech. fall Jimmy Sanchez
132: Austin Farmer (Bluffton) pinned Wayne Cooke, 1st period
138: Josh Green (BC) major dec. Alex Waddell
145: Mike Meyerink (Bluffton) major dec. Brian Labean
152: DJ Johnson (BC) pinned Johnny Kauter, 1st period
160: Alex Ruppert (Bluffton) pinned Tarey Jennette, 1st period
170: Harry Chirinos (Bluffton) pinned Braden Smith, 1st period
182: Javon Livingston (BC) pinned Edgar Prada, 1st period
195: Josh Knight (BC) won by forfeit
220: Shakil Gause (BC) dec. Isai Hernandez
285: David Ratliff (BC) won by forfeit