A sack near the end of the first half moved Chandler Basha just far enough for Cade Thompson to see his 42-yard field-goal try bounce off the crossbar as time expired.
This time, quarterback Zach Werlinger moved his team in the final 2:24 from his 24 to the Phoenix Horizon 8, giving Thompson a chip-shot, 26-yard field goal to win it.
No. 10 Basha’s 43-42 victory over host and No. 7 Horizon moves it into next week’s Division I quarterfinals.
“It wasn’t really outside my range,” Thompson said about the 42-yarder. “I hit it wrong. I felt bad about it. But my coaches trusted me. My teammates trusted me. It was awesome.”
With Horizon junior quarterback Dalton Sneed throwing three first-half touchdown passes, helping hist team to 35-34 halftime lead, Horizon’s fast-paced, dynamic offense sputtered in the second half.
Horizon (8-3) scored its only touchdown on a Luke Quinn 32-yard touchdown run with 4:53 left. He bounced off a defender and sprinted into the end zone to give his team a 42-40 lead. It came after Werlinger was intercepted deep in Horizon territory.
Horizon elected not to go for two to try to take a three-point lead at that point and took the extra point.
Werlinger rallied Basha (6-5) all night, from the moment his first pass got intercepted to the final drive that was aided by a pass-interference penalty.
After overthrowing his target on fourth down, Basha’s defense gave Werlinger one more chance to do something.
Werlinger completed a 14-yard pass to Ryan Robertson. Horizon was called for pass interference on third and 10, putting the ball on the Horizon 39.
Werlinger ran 10 yards following a 10-yard completion to Justin Wheaton.
Two strong runs by Rajhan Meriweather (who had four first-half touchdowns) moved the ball to the 8. Werlinger took a 1-yard loss to center the ball for Thompson’s winning kid.
With 14 seconds left, from its 36, Horizon ran out of big plays.
“There were three of them (interceptions) that could have really cost my team,” Werlinger said. “They played really hard with me and we were able to do it when it really mattered the most. It was a lot of fun.”
Werlinger passed for 125 yards and a touchdown in the final quarter. Werlinger threw TD passes of 72 yards to Meriweather and 59 yards to Doc O’Connor in the first half.”
“We weren’t going to get down,” Basha coach Bernie Busken said. “We knew we had a job to do. Horizon’s offense does a really good job. Our job was to score points.”