The students in the stands at Havelock High School began to chant:

The students in the stands at Havelock High School began to chant: “I believe that we have won! I believe that we have won!”

Seconds later, Rocky Mount silenced those chants. They didn’t believe Havelock had won. There were still 32 seconds left in the game.

Yes, they were 99 yards away from a touchdown that could tie the eastern 3A regional championship game against Havelock. But, they had the football and they had a chance. Sure, a miniscule chance. After all, who can go 99 yards for a touchdown in 32 seconds against one of the best teams in the state?

Turns out, Rocky Mount didn’t need that much time. On the very first play, quarterback Shabios Lynch hit Detrell Revis on a seam route up the middle of the field, and he outran the rest of the Havelock defense into the end zone. The game was tied, and eventually, Rocky Mount won 34-33 in triple overtime, stunning a Havelock team that expected to get to its fifth state championship game in the last six seasons.

While feeling awful for every Havelock player, I couldn’t overlook Rocky Mount’s accomplishments — nor could I ignore Havelock’s for that matter.

Success has a tendency to breed complacency, especially among fans. Many probably expected Havelock to beat Rocky Mount. After all, we’re Havelock. That’s what we do.

But in all honesty, winning requires a lot of hard work, and despite all the work the players and coaches put into it, sometimes you lose. That’s just the way it goes. That’s just the way life goes.

One loss in the eastern regional championship game — as stunning as it was — shouldn’t be allowed to define the 2016 Rams. They finished with a 13-2 record and as regional runner-up.

For the seventh time in the last eight seasons, the Havelock football team reached the eastern regional championship game. That’s like making the Final Four in college basketball seven of eight years. It’s the pinnacle of the sport and an accomplishment that players, coaches and fans should celebrate.

For the players and coaches, the loss to Rocky Mount will stay with them forever. Each one has probably wondered what he could have done differently to change the outcome of the game.

In Disney’s “The Lion King,” Rafiki clubs Simba over the head, prompting the young lion to ask why. “It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past,” Rafiki tells him. He continues: “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”

There’s always a bit of wisdom in a Disney movie, and it didn’t take long after the game for Havelock players to understand a lesson taught by a cartoon baboon — even if their tears had not yet dried.

“I wish that we would have come out on top, but everything happens for a reason,” said defensive lineman Destin Flloyd, one of Havelock’s top players. “I think this happened for a reason to show the underclassmen, the juniors, the sophomores and all that, that it all can’t be our way, that sometimes there’s going to be some backsteps, and this is one of them. But, I hope that next year and years afterward that they just go all the way.”

The game marked Flloyd’s last as a Havelock Ram. The senior is set to graduate in June.

“My four years here have probably been the best of my life,” Flloyd told me after the game. “I learned so much. Havelock made me who I am and it made me who I’m not. If it wasn’t for this school and wasn’t for this coaching staff and wasn’t for this team, I probably could have been anywhere, but I’m glad God kept me here, and I thank God for everything this school has done for me.”

Havelock may have lost on the field, but with that kind of attitude, Flloyd and the rest of the Rams can call themselves winners.

Ken Buday is the editor and general manager of the Havelock News. He can be reached at ken.buday@havenews.com or at 635-5673.