LEXINGTON -- The unthinkable occurred at the conclusion of the Class 2A state championship game between the Mayfield Cardinals and the Somerset Briar Jumpers at Kroger Field on Saturday afternoon.
With no time on the clock and one free play awarded to Somerset from the Cardinal 20-yard line, Briar Jumper quarterback Kaiya Sheron found wide receiver Tate Madden in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown pass.
Somerset's 34-31 win over Mayfield is its first state championship in school history, snapping a previous 0-5 mark.
Mayfield head coach Joe Morris got choked up when talking about his seniors falling just short of capturing their long sought after state championship win.
"It's hard," Morris said. "I can't say enough about them, (they're) great kids and they played their hearts out today, falling a few points short. I know they're hurting and I'm hurting for them, they gave their hearts and souls to this team. This is sports though, they're tough and will teach you life lessons. You're going to have ups-and-downs, and today's a down for us, but like I said, these guys will bounce back; they're resilient and we're proud of them."
The Cardinals trailed throughout the contest after deferring the opening kickoff to the Briar Jumpers.
Somerset came out of the gate ready to run the ball down the Cardinals' throats, and they did just that.
Back-to-back scoring possessions led to the Briar Jumpers taking a 14-7 lead after one quarter of play, as Mayfield quarterback Jayden Stinson found Diaz Perry for a 77-yard touchdown in between drives to get the Cardinals on the scoreboard.
A huge blow to the Cardinal offense only halted any production in the first half, as wide receiver Kade Neely left the game with a knee injury and though he tried to come back from it, eventually would not return.
Following the unfortunate loss of Neely, the Mayfield offense started to click in the second quarter as kicker Micah Haley went 1-for-2 on field goal attempts, and Stinson led the Cardinals down the field late in the half to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Markeacio Jackson.
Mayfield's defense continued to struggle against the Briar Jumper rushing attack as the Cardinals headed into the halftime break down 21-17.
Each team tuned up their defensive play in the second half, as a scoreless third quarter set up what would be an inconceivable finish.
Just 25 seconds into the fourth quarter, Somerset got back into the end zone, tying its largest lead of the game, taking a 28-17 advantage over the Cardinals.
Mayfield proved they were built for a battle though, using a four-minute drive to score its first touchdown of the half followed by a successful two-point conversion to cut the Briar Jumper lead to 31-28 with just over 7 minutes to play.
In what was the craziest play of the afternoon before the finale, Haley's ensuing kickoff was muffed by Somerset's return man, leading to a fumble recovery by Nathan Watkins and setting up first and goal for the Cardinals.
One play later, Kylan Galbreath punched in the 7-yard TD run to give Mayfield its first lead of the game, 31-28, following a missed extra point.
With momentum on their side, the Cardinal defense was ready to make a stop.
Back-to-back sacks by Jackson led to a Briar Jumper punt, giving Mayfield the chance to run the clock out en route to a coveted state championship win. But the Cardinals came up just short, failing to convert on fourth-and-5 inside the red zone, giving Sheron and the Somerset offense one more shot.
With less than 30 seconds remaining in the contest, Somerset managed to pick up two first downs, moving them across midfield and into Cardinal territory with the game clock dwindling.
On what was believed to be the final play of the game, a defensive pass interference call was assessed to the Mayfield defense, giving Somerset one free play for the win.
With no time remaining and one final shot at glory, Sheron found an open Madden streaking toward end zone, giving Somerset (14-1) its first state championship win in dramatic fashion.
Following the heartbreaking loss, Stinson offered some positive insight into how things shook out in the final 30 seconds of play.
"I really felt like we left it all out there on offense," Stinson said. "I don't really know what happened right there, but there's nothing we can do about it, it was busted coverage and that stuff happens. They just made a play out of it, props to them for getting all the way down the field in that short amount of time. We should have capitalized in the red zone but it is what it is, nothing we can do now."
The Cardinals finish the 2019 season 13-2, ending their season with a state championship loss at Kroger Field for the third consecutive season.
Somerset 14 7 0 13 34
Mayfield 7 10 0 14 31
Somerset -- Jase Bruner 43 run (Tommy Wombles kick), 10:20, 1st
Mayfield -- Diaz Perry 77 pass from Stinson (Micah Haley kick), 9:27, 1st
Somerset -- Mikey Garland 1 run (Wombles kick), 6:20, 1st
Mayfield -- FG Haley 22, 7:06, 2nd
Somerset -- Garland 3 run (Wombles kick), 1:58, 2nd
Mayfield -- Markeacio Jackson 1 run (Haley kick), 0:03, 2nd
Somerset -- Garland 4 run (Wombles kick), 5:12, 4th
Mayfield -- Tate Puckett 11 pass from Stinson (Nathan Watkins 2-pt conversion), 7:07, 4th
Mayfield -- Kylan Galbreath 7 run (kick failed), 6:56, 4th
Somerset -- Tate Madden 20 pass from Sheron 0:00 4th
First downs 18 20
Rushes-yards 35-137 37-165
Passing yards 175 241
Comp-Att-Int 10-15-0 15-17-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 3-10 10-83
Time of Possession 22:56 25:04
RUSHING -- Mayfield, Galbreath 25-160, Stinson 6-23, Jackson 5-2. Somerset, Bruner 6-57, Sheron 11-56, Garland 9-23, Austin 7-21.
PASSING -- Mayfield, Stinson 15-17-0-241. Somerset, 10-15-0-175.
RECEIVING -- Mayfield, Neely 3-16, Puckett 6-95 Perry 5-121, Daniel 1-9. Somerset, Grundy 3-52, Gilmore 3-24, Madden 2-58, Garland 1-25.