Maybe it was the full moon occasionally shining through the numerous clouds. Maybe it was the understandable challenge for the McCallie football team of attempting to return to earth after winning the past two TSSAA Division II-AAA state titles.
Or maybe it was simply a case of Chattanooga Christian School coach Mark Mariakis devising one heck of a game plan against the Blue Tornado on the Chargers' home field at the foot of Lookout Mountain.
But whatever it was, as McCallie coach Ralph Potter watched CCS star Boo Carter race 15 yards in front of the Blue Tornado's closest defender on his way to an 80-yard catch-and-run touchdown toss from quarterback BJ Holland, he turned to those around him and asked, "What happened?"
And he was not alone, for the proceeding extra-point kick by Lane Travis's would briefly put the Chargers on top 7-6.
Then reality set in, as has been the case for most of the past two seasons whenever the Blue Tornado are fierce and focused.
From that stunning early lead, the Chargers never scored again, eventually falling 46-7 to a McCallie program that certainly appears to reload more than rebuild these days.
"We got off to a slow start," said senior quarterback William Riddle, who wound up throwing six touchdown passes and completing 26 of his 33 throws for 401 yards. "It was frustrating, but we started clicking."
No one clicked more than Canada native Xavier Gaillardetz, who caught seven passes for 129 yards and two scores.
"Xavier's a good receiver," Potter said. "Big body. Great pair of hands. We're blessed to have him."
Said Riddle of Gaillardetz, who's in his first season at McCallie: "He's catching the ball no matter what."
Not that he was the only one catching Riddle's throws. Austin Breedlove — a quarterback at times — hauled in six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Weston Hammond caught four passes for 60 yards and two scores. Andrei Delinois didn't score, but he did haul in four passes for 56 yards.
"William's a great kid," Gaillardetz of his quarterback. "He's really kind of a nerd. He's always watching film. Always studying. He loves the game."
Both sides had moments to love. CCS not only held that early lead but twice stopped McCallie early, including on fourth-and-3 on the the Chargers' 16 when Cardarius Ringer sacked Riddle for a 4-yard loss.
In one of the oddest stats you'll ever see from a McCallie team, the Blue Tornado rushed for just 5 yards in the opening half, continually thwarted by the Chargers putting eight men in the proverbial box and daring the reigning champs to run, which has been their calling card for more than 40 years, since Ralph's father Pete ran the program.
But that strategy also allowed McCallie to have 297 passing yards at halftime with a 25-7 lead. It also didn't help the Chargers' cause that an onside kick after their go-ahead score was recovered by the visitors, which quickly led to a McCallie go-ahead score and a lead it would never relinquish. The visitors even got a rushing touchdown late, courtesy of Zach Chari.
Up next for CCS is traditional Class A power South Pittsburg. McCallie travels to Georgia power Calhoun, which gave the Blue Tornado a tough game at Finley Stadium a year ago.
Gaillardetz said he's been impressed daily by the efforts of his new teammates to win a third straight state title.
"Just the energy of everyone," he said. "Everybody's working together. Everybody gives their best every practice."
Even a full moon couldn't alter that against the Chargers.