As Basha amassed nearly unfathomable yardage totals Friday night, the one thing looming over the Bears, threatening to cast for naught nearly 700 yards of offense, was a missed extra point midway through the second quarter.
Cade Thompson sailed that extra point wide in the midst of a back-and-forth track meet at Horizon, and then came up a yard short on a 42-yard field goal attempt just before halftime.
Those two shortcomings made the junior's 29-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining that much sweeter. The kick gave the 10th-seeded Bears a 43-42 victory over No. 7 Horizon in the first round of the Division I playoffs and sent Basha to a quarterfinals meeting with city-rival and second-seeded Chandler next Friday.
"We were down two points because of the kicking game," said the 5-foot-8, 140-pound Thompson, who doesn't look much like a football player in his pads and uniform, let alone without them. "My teammates told me at halftime not to worry about it, that I would hit the game-winner. Sure enough, with 19 seconds left. All kickers dream about this. ... It's nerve-wracking but it's awesome."
Basha went for the two-point conversion following a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to get back that missed extra point, but came up short then as well. It left the Bears down 42-40 after the third touchdown of the night from Horizon's Luke Quinn, and the Huskies' decision not to go for two and the possible three-point lead.
Basha started its final possession at its own 24-yard line with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left. Zach Werlinger, who threw for 453 yards and three touchdowns but also three interceptions, guided his team to the Horizon 8 — aided by a pass-interference penalty along the way — and took a 1-yard loss to center the ball for Thompson.
"I'm real proud of Cade. We were able to get him an opportunity to win it and he came through," said Werlinger, who completed 27 passes in 46 attempts. "We've lost a lot of close ones and I'm going to enjoy this one tonight."
Basha lost a pair of games by a combined four points in the second half of the season, which dropped it to a double-digit seed for the playoffs. That only made for a great matchup with the explosive Huskies.
"We anticipated it was going to be a shootout so we had to answer with big plays every time they scored," Werlinger said.
The Bears and Huskies traded haymakers in the first half, when they were on pace for more than 1,400 combined yards, and went into the locker room with Horizon holding a 35-34 lead thanks to that missed extra point.
"You always worry about that coming back to bite you," Basha coach Bernie Busken said. "... But it was nice for (Thompson) to be able to make up for that."
Thompson was in that position thanks to 274 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns from running back Rajhan Meriwether and 113 receiving yards each from Ryan Robertson and Joe Storm. For Storm, all of his catches came in the second half.
For Horizon, which has not advanced past the first round since 2006, Quinn finished with 187 rushing yards and junior quarterback Dalton Sneed threw for 299 yards and ran for another 51. The Huskies, though, registered just seven points in the second half.
"It was just broken down plays in key situations," Horizon coach Kris Heavner said. "In the first half we executed. Nothing changed (in the second half). It was just broken down plays. "... I was just hoping our defense would rise to the occasion. All our kids work hard and I was just hoping to put them in a spot to win, and unfortunately Basha made more plays than we did. That's what it came down to."
Basha 43, Horizon 42
Basha 14 20 0 9 — 43
Horizon 21 14 0 7 — 42
H — McLaurin 29 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick), 10:40
B — Meriwether 72 pass from Werlinger (Thompson kick), 10:23
H — McLaurin 1 run (McAtamney kick), 4:47
B — Meriwether 2 run (Thompson kick), 2:22
H — Robinson 61 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick), 1:00
B — Meriwether 2 run (Thompson kick), 10:57
B — Meriwether 8 run (Thompson kick), 8:07
H — Quinn 2 run (McAtamney kick), 4:54
B — O'Connor 59 pass from Werlinger (kick failed), 3:55
H — Quinn 23 pass from Sneed (McAtamney kick), 3:16
B — Robertson 17 pass from Werlinger (pass failed), 10:31
H — Quinn 32 run (McAtamney kick), 4:53
B — Thompson 29 FG, 0:19
First downs: B 31, H 22
Rushing: B 42-224, H 30-258
Passing (Comp.-Att.-Yards-TD-INT): B 28-47-462-3, H: 23-34-299-1
Fumbles-Lost: B 1-0, H 3-2
Penalties-Yards: B 6-43, H 8-80
RUSHING — Basha: Meriwether 26-152, Werlinger 12-57, Welsh 1-6, Storm 1-4, Robertson 1-3, O'Connor 1-2. Horizon: Quinn 11-187, Sneed 14-51, McLaurin 3-17, Marciniak 2-3.
PASSING — Basha: Werlinger 27-48-3-453, O'Connor 1-1-0-9. Horizon: Sneed 23-34-1-299.
RECEIVING — Basha: Meriwether 5-122, Storm 7-113, Robertson 10-113, O'Connor 5-105, Gibson 1-9. Horizon: McLaurin 5-68, Robinson 1-61, Quinn 7-60, McCarthy 4-58, Marciniak 5-52.
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