Depending on whom you talk to, what happened on Nantucket in November of 1992 is like a pleasant dream or a recurring nightmare.

"It was my worst loss ever in 31 years," exclaims Nantucket head football coach Vito Capizzo.

"It was my biggest win," says Vineyard coach Donald Herman.

If there's one thing both coaches agree on, it's that the 1992 Island Cup game between Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket was a game for the ages. Two years later, it is still replayed and recounted in coffee shops and at football banquets. It is the standard all future games will be judged against.

The 1992 game is remembered primarily for the furious Vineyard comeback. After spotting Nantucket a 12-0 lead, the Vineyard turned the game around in the final five minutes for a thrilling 14-12 victory.

It was simply the greatest Vineyard-Nantucket game ever.

Go ahead, try and dispute the above statement. Dust off the game films and replay them. Brag about your glory days of leather helmets and drop kicks until you are blue in the face, but you won't find a game that compares. Here's why:

What was on the line: The Vineyard and Nantucket were both 8-1, both undefeated in the league, and playing for the Island Cup, the Mayflower League title and a berth in the state Super Bowl.

The jinx: Martha's Vineyard had not won on Nantucket since 1972, when Nixon was president, Elvis was still King and Donald Herman was 14 years old an playing Pop Warner football in Savannah, Ga.

The lead-up: The amount of pregame hype for this game was remarkable. The Vineyard came in with the state's top-ranked offense, fueled by quarterback Jason Dyer's 20 touchdown passes. (Note that 1994's passing leader, John Aloisi of Nantucket, has eight TD passes). The Vineyard was the defending state champions and fielded a team of league all-stars, but until five minutes remained, Nantucket dominated the contest.

"People were getting scared out there," admits Dyer, now the star quarterback at Fitchburg State University. "We were almost sleepwalking out there; it was like a bad dream."

The comeback: The key number here is 4:46. With four minutes and 46 seconds remaining, the Vineyard trailed 12-0. On the Vineyard's first play after the kickoff, Dyer hit receiver Jason O'Donnell with a long bomb to the Nantucket 30 yard line. A roughing-the-passer penalty put the ball on the 12, and three plays later, Dyer found Albie Robinson in the end zone for a touchdown. Mike Dowd's kick made it 12-7 — a crucial point after.

The Vineyard defense shut Nantucket down on the next series, and they got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining. Several plays into the drive, Dyer hit all-league receiver Keith Devine with a short sideline pass, and Devine whirled around cornerbackKevin Blake for a 35-yard touchdown scamper. Once again, Dowd drilled the extra point to make it 14-12.

"I never lost hope that we could come back," Dyer says. "I knew we could score at any time because we had such an explosive offense. Everyone knew we had the ability to do it."

Mr. Herman says he did not alter his game plan with the Vineyard down late in the game.

"We didn't change anything," he recalls. "We just executed better. Of course, we had some great plays that were made. But also on defense, we sucked it up when we had to."

The weird play: There is another moment in the game that gets forgotten among the Dyer and Devine heroics, but it's just as important. With 1:54 left in the game, Mr. Capizzo called for a screen pass to back Aaron Fox. Vineyard linebacker Rusty Ventura broke up the play, and the team erupted at midfield.

But the ball wasn't really dead, you see. Officials interpreted the pass as a lateral, and Fox picked up the ball and raced 35 yards until a clear-headed Vineyard sophomore named Aaron Belanger tackled him to save a touchdown.

"I was standing near the sidelines, and I saw [Fox] pick up the ball and head toward me," recalls Belanger, now an all-league lineman. "I had a jump on him, and I got him from behind."

"It was an amazing play," Vineyard television broadcaster Ken Goldberg says. "All of the players had lost their minds except for Belanger, who chased [Fox] down and saved the victory."

The aftermath: After Whaler quarterback Dennis Caron's final Hail Mary pass fell weakly into the arms of Dyer for an interception, the Vineyard celebration ensured.

Players and coaches were almost trampled in the rush of fans and media, and the Island Cup was hoisted by Devine for all of Whaler country to see.

"It was a feeling you just can't explain," Dyer says.

The Nantucket impact: The Nantucket sideline and bleachers remained silent as the Vineyard players paraded around the field. Assistants patted Mr. Capizzo on the back, and several Whalers kneeled on the grass, helmets off and tears in their eyes.

"It was a funeral atmosphere," says Nantucket television broadcaster Dick Herman. "The kids would get over it, but I think Vito was still mourning until January or February. I don't think he got over the game until the next spring."

Especially hurtful to Mr. Capizzo was the second-guessing of his coaching decisions. Nantucketers obsessed over the loss, and many questioned Coach Vito's strategy late in the game, as the Whalers unraveled.

"It was the most historic loss in Vineyard history, and there certainly was a lot of second guessing," Dick Herman says. "It still comes up a lot, too. People ask, 'Why didn't we do this or that?' Second-guessing is a part of our community."

"We just made a lot of mental mistakes," Mr. Capizzo says of the loss.

The journey home: With the Island Cup in hand, the Vineyarders and more than a thousand celebrants piled aboard the steamship Nantucket for the voyage home. The party continued for two and a half hours, although Jason Dyer managed to take a quick nap.

When the Nantucket arrived Vineyard Haven harbor, it was greeted by a swirl of lights, cannon shots and another thousand screaming fans. After docking, the team filed off the ferry, and Albie Robinson hoisted the Island Cup above his head for all to see.

"I've seen some big welcomes before, but nothing like that," Coach Herman remembers. "It was awe inspiring."

The Vineyard would go on to defeat Latin Academy for the state Division 5B Super Bowl, their second consecutive title. But the Super Bowl paled in comparison to the Nantucket comeback of 1992— a game that remains in the hearts of all Vineyarders.

"It was great for the kids to experience," Donald Herman says. "It was something that they will never forget. No matter what they go though for the rest of their lives, they will always have that game."