The timeout drew the Mill Valley defense to the sideline, with Goddard mere inches from clinching the Kansas Class 5A state championship. The message from Mill Valley coach Joel Applebee was a simple reminder.
“We just told our kids that we’re still going to find a way to win this game,” Applebee said. “Everything up to that point had been crazy. Why not?”
The ending followed suit.
Mill Valley toyed with a cruel finish before outlasting Goddard 35-34 in double overtime in the Kansas Class 5A state championship.
The Jaguars, 9-4, won their second straight title Saturday at Pittsburg State — this one requiring a last-gasp overtime turnover at the goal line and a game-winning extra point on an adventurous day for the kicking games.
“We like a challenge,” Mill Valley senior safety Joel Donn said with a smirk.
This would qualify.
In the initial overtime, Goddard was primed for a game-winning score after Mill Valley had missed a short field goal on its offensive possession. But halfback Kody Gonzalez fumbled as he leaped for the goal line. Mill Valley recovered, pushing the game to a second overtime.
Goddard, 11-2, possessed the ball first, and senior Jordan Cooke caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sullivan on third down. But Goddard missed the extra point.
Mill Valley made it count. The Jaguars answered with a 10-yard touchdown on its first play of double overtime, a pass from quarterback Brody Flaming to receiver Evan Rice. The official game-winning play came off the foot of Mill Valley sophomore Jack Matchette, who split the uprights with his extra point after missing the field goal in the first overtime.
“How do you explain a game like that?” Flaming pondered in the aftermath of the celebration.
Flaming played a significant role in determining its outcome. He threw for five touchdowns — three to Rice and two more to Ben Hartman.
Behind his arm, Mill Valley led for the entire second half until Goddard pulled even with 4:10 left. Sullivan capped a 95-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run and then used his legs once more for the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 28-28.
The overtime was built for a Mill Valley team that has made a habit of finding ways to claw out postseason victories. A week ago, the Jaguars defeated St. Thomas Aquinas 14-13 in the semifinals after forcing a turnover with fewer than 2 minutes left in the game.
“This is a resilient group, and they never lose the mind-set of winning,” Applebee said. “That’s why we never had a doubt.”
The mind-set took time. After all, the Jaguars endured a four-game losing streak in the middle of their schedule — a product of a difficult schedule and defensive mishaps. They allowed 50.3 points per game over the skid.
A resurgence in defense halted the streak. Mill Valley gave up just 17 points per game during the postseason.
And once again, the defense made the ultimate play Saturday, knocking the ball free from Gonzalez, who rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
“There was a point when I was thinking, ‘man, did I just lose this game?’ ” Flaming said. “Then I remembered that I trusted my defense. They got the ball back for us, and that’s all we needed — one more chance.”