A missed kick in the second week of the playoffs two years ago helped to send the Thayer Bobcats on the way to the first of their back-to-back trips to the Class 1 Show-Me Bowl at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
A missed kick in the second week of the playoffs this year helped to end the Cats' impressive run of back-to-back trips to the Class 1 Show-Me Bowl.
In the quarter-final round in Hayti two years ago, it was a missed 27-yard field goal by the home team that helped send Thayer on its way to the state championship game with a tight 14-13 victory.
In the sectional round this year, a missed extra-point in double-overtime ended the Bobcats' season with a crushing 35-34 loss to the Miller Cardinals Nov. 9 at Louis Bozman Stadium.
The Miller (9-2) victory not only snaps the Cardinals' four-game losing streak to Thayer (9-2), it also sends Miller to the quarterfinal round to face high-flying Valle Catholic Nov. 13.
In the last meeting between Thayer and Miller, one month ago in the opening round of District 3 play, the Bobcats had their way with the Cardinals and posted an easy 54-14 victory over Miller.
This time, the game was anything but easy.
The Cardinals looked like a completely different team in their rematch with Thayer, but the Cats, too, had a bit of a different look. Tight end Kevin Sandridge was standing on the sidelines after suffering a broken ankle in Thayer's regional round win over Lockwood. Offensive line mainstay Bryan Tate was hobbled late in the first half against Miller and he, too, was left to watch the game from the sideline. And early in the third quarter, Dylan Harralston was also knocked out of action, leaving Thayer minus three key components.
And Miller took advantage of that.
Deadlocked at 28-all heading into the second overtime period, Miller took the football first and got a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Jack to wideout Tyler Hinshaw. The PAT gave the visitors a 35-28 lead.
On Thayer's series in the second OT, things looked bleak for the home team as the Cats were faced with fourth-and-6 from the 21-yard line.
But Bobcat quarterback Jared Foley used some nifty scrambling to avoid a sack and hit Derek Krieg with a 21-yard TD pass.
All that was left was for the Bobcats to kick the extra-point and send the contest to a third overtime frame. But Ethan Leisenring's point-after kick, while looking good to the naked eye, was ruled wide of the mark by the officials, sending a disappointed group of Bobcats to their knees on the turf at Louis Bozman, while the Cardinals erupted in celebration with the hard-earned 35-34 victory.
A wild, back-and-forth fourth quarter set up the dramatic finish in double-OT.
The Cats took a 14-6 into the fourth quarter before Miller pulled some magic out of its hat.
Wrapping up a 61-yard scoring drive with a 10-yard touchdown run from Daniel Parscal at the 9:55 mark of the fourth, the Cardinals were in business to make a comeback. Jack's 2-point conversion pass attempt was no good, leaving Thayer on top 14-12.
But one snap into its next possession, Thayer fumbled the football back to Miller at the Bobcat 35-yard line.
Six plays later, the quick-strike Cardinals took the lead on a 13-yard TD pass from Jack. The 2-point conversion gave Miller a 20-14 advantage with 8:14 left in regulation.
But the Bobcats are also capable of pulling off a quick strike and they did just that on their next touch of the football. On third-and-4 from the Thayer 28, Foley (131 yards passing) hit Tommy Martin with a huge 57-yard pass that pushed the ball all the way to the Miller 16-yard line.
Josh Huckabee (218 yards rushing) took over from there, sprinting 12 yards into the end zone to punch Thayer back in front. Leisenring's extra-point gave the Bobcats a 21-20 lead with 5:14 left in the game.
It looked like Thayer had managed to finally put away the pesky Cardinals with less than two minutes left in the fourth.
On fourth-and-12 from their own 33-yard line, the Cardinals coughed up the football and Jeremy Cabrales recovered it for the Bobcats.
That big defensive play set up a 40-yard TD run from Huckabee with 1:27 showing on the clock. Leisenring's PAT gave Thayer a 28-20 lead.
However, that left plenty of time for Miller to drive 70 yards in five plays to knot the game. Parscal ran in from a yard out to pull Miller within two points of Thayer.
Then, Jack hit Tyler Hinshaw with the 2-point conversion pass to square things at 28-all with 23 ticks left in the fourth.
The Cats' next series ended with a Hinshaw interception, sending the game to overtime tied at 28-all.
Thayer came close to scoring on its first series of the first OT, but on fourth-and-goal from the 7, Foley was shoved out at the 1-yard line to stop the Bobcats from posting any points.
Miller's first possession of the first overtime ended when Foley got his hands on a 20-yard field goal attempt by Parscal, leaving the game tied at 28-all and sending it to a second extra-period.
Just like the first overtime period would be, the first quarter of the game was a scoreless tie.
Thayer advanced the scoreboard first on the night, moving 76 yards in eight plays to get a 4-yard touchdown run from Huckabee at the 9:21 point of the second. The extra-point gave Thayer a 7-0 lead.
Miller responded with a 55-yard scoring drive later in the second. Hinshaw caught a screen pass and wound his way 38 yards into the end zone for Miller's first TD of the game. The PAT try was wide left, leaving Thayer on top 7-6.
The Bobcats came close to scoring again, right before intermission. Foley threw a strike to Huckabee near the Miller goal line, but Huckabee was pushed out of bounds short of the goal line and Thayer took a slim one-point lead to the break.
The only points of the third belonged to Thayer on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Foley to Martin at the 3:56 mark. Leisenring's extra-point edged the Bobcats in front 14-6 after three.
But the Cardinals refused to give in and finally managed to break their losing streak against the three-time defending champions from Thayer in dramatic fashion -- 35-34 in double-overtime.
The Bobcats are not the only team that won't be making their third straight trip to the Class 1 Show-Me Bowl. Orrick, the two-time defending state champs, was routed 51-13 by Penney in the sectional round of the playoffs.