WHITMAN (CBS) – When a referee collapsed in the middle of a high school football game, two Whitman-Hanson players knew the seconds mattered.

“I was on the sideline talking to Ethan. We both turned around, saw him on the ground. Ethan went one way, I went the other,” sophomore Jack Sweeney said.

Jack Sweeney (WBZ-TV)

Ethan Phelps grabbed one AED in the equipment shed; Jack sprinted for the other on the trainer’s cart.

“I kind of knew he had a heart attack because the same thing happened to my grandfather in the airport when I was with him. The defibrillator saved his life,” senior Ethan Phelps said.

Ironically, Jack’s dad, an off-duty paramedic, first performed a sternum rub. The ref woke up and his pulse got stronger.

Ethan Phelps (WBZ-TV)

Bob Rodgers, the athletic director was proud of how the students handled the situation. “They never had to use the AED but it made us feel good that our student athletes knew what to do in the event of an emergency like that,” Rodgers said.

Both athletes are humble.

“I just knew what to do,” Ethan said.

Whitman Hanson Football (WBZ-TV)

“I feel like anybody in my position would have done the same thing,” Jack said.

But they do feel proud of how this reflects on Whitman-Hanson.

“We don’t want anyone getting hurt on our field,” Jack said.

The referee has been at Brockton Hospital and is doing well.

Juli McDonald