Pat Santos was leaving a classroom in the basement of East Boston High School, en route to his fourth-period study hall in the library, when his cell phone exploded.
Dozens of text messages suddenly popped up, and Santos went to the nearest computer to discover his name above Adrian Peterson's in a SportsNation poll on ESPN.com.
The dazzling 82-yard touchdown run by AP on Sunday was nice, but let's be fair. That's not unexpected. This feat by Santos -- a one-handed, 85-footer buzzer-beater (Boston Herald video HERE) to deliver the Jets a wild 43-42 thriller over Boston City League rival Madison Park, in the notoriously unfriendly confines of the Cardinals' home gym -- came out of nowhere to be named the No. 1 play today on "SportsCenter."
And after a few moments of excitement -- players storming the court, a barrage of tweets from the fans in attendance -- nobody today in Eastie is sure how to take this in.
For Santos, there was "no time for reaction" in the moments immediately following his miraculous heave. He was mobbed by his teammates on the Madidome floor and "couldn't even move." When the senior returned to his East Boston home, it was a subdued celebration with his parents, simply having a meal, washing up and going to bed.
Today in the hallways at Eastie, Santos constantly found himself stopped by teachers and classmates he's never met, asking him, "You're the kid who hit the shot, right?"
"Right now, it still feels surreal to this second," Santos said. "I can't even believe what happened."
Eastie head coach Shawn Brown has hit his share of buzzer-beaters. During his playing career at Charlestown High in the early 90's, he hit one on Eastie's floor to beat the Jets. In his post-graduate season at New Hampton (N.H.) Prep, he hit one to beat Winchendon for the NEPSAC Class A championship. In his four-year career at Merrimack, he nailed several, including one to beat archrival St. Anselm for the Northeast-10 regular season championship.
But this? Brown finds himself at a loss for words.
"To be a part of it is surreal," he said. "I don't know if you can recreate that scenario ever again, especially for us. But to realize the magnitude of it, and waking up to folks telling you that you're on ESPN, is just mind-blowing."
Brown returned to his home in Brockton last night and opened his phone to see 16 text messages and at least 10 missed calls.
All of it came less than a second from never happening.
In fact, Brown was preparing in his head for what he was going to say to the team after a rookie mistake all but cost them the game. With four fouls to give, Brown instructed his players to commit a foul before the ball could cross the half-court line. Naturally, the ball went all the way into the corner, where MP's Johnny Bowden drew a foul on the way up for a 3-point attempt, giving him three free throws with one second remaining on the clock.
After Bowden hit the first two shots, MP coach Dennis Wilson called a timeout. It appeared the third shot was going to be an intentional miss in an attempt to prevent Eastie from getting the ball back. Brown had to think fast, and Santos took charge.
"I was thinking at first that he was gonna make the final shot," Santos said. "I told my teammate Xavier, 'Don't touch, let me get it.'"
Santos grabbed the rebound, turned and tossed up a prayer. He said "it felt good," but nobody expects an 85-foot heave to go in.
"At that point, I told them if you get it, be prepared for the miss and then chuck it up," Brown said. "Pat just kicked in. It was a gutsy shot by a gutsy kid. If there's someone you want taking that shot and not worry about making or missing it, it's Pat."
As for today, such is the beauty of the newly aligned Boston City League. Last summer, the 15 member schools voted to realign in a three-tier format based on competitive balance. For Eastie, which is in the top tier (named the "North" division) alongside Charlestown, MP, New Mission and Brighton, there is no rest. The Jets face archrival Charlestown tomorrow night.
Still, this one will be hard to let go.
"Practice today is gonna be crazy," Santos laughed. "We have a motto, L.I.G. -- let it go. We play good, we let it go. We play bad, we get over it. It's gonna be hard, but we've gotta get over this one anyways."