It all came down to one play. In a seesaw football battle that included six interceptions and two scoreless quarters, the Pierce City Eagles failed to convert a two-point post-touchdown attempt and lost 13-12 in the Miller Cardinals on Friday in Miller. It was a game of lost opportunities for both sides where victory pivoted on dominance in the fourth quarter.
Pierce City gained possession from an on-sides kickoff to start the game. Four plays later Miller's defensive back Zach Eaton intercepted Pierce City quarterback Wayne Sooter's pass at the two-yard line and the tenor of the game had been set.
Pierce City defensive back Nick Prescott sacked Miller quarterback Tyler Hinshaw on the fourth play of Miller's next drive, but a 33-yard run by Miller's workhorse, runningback Darin Clark, got the Cardinals moving. The drive appeared to sputter on Miller's 41, but the Cardinal punt fell on the backside of a Pierce City player defending the designated receiver. Miller fell on the live ball and had possession at the Eagle's 32-yard line.
On the next play, a Hinshaw pass went in and out of the hands of the Miller receiver. Pierce City's defensive end Robert Baldwin snagged it in the air. The Eagles edged toward midfield and gave Miller good field position when a punt play fell apart on a fumbled snap. Three plays later, a Miller pass was intercepted by Pierce City's Mitchell Gibson. Pierce City had the ball for only three plays, giving it back on another interception. The first quarter ended scoreless.
Miller settled down for its next drive, executing 11 plays with two completed passes. Clark sprinted for 35 yards to cross midfield and Hinshaw ran around the Pierce City tacklers for a 22-yard gain to score five minutes into the second quarter. Daniel Parscal's kick was good, putting the score at 7-0.
Responding in kind, the Eagles also mounted an 11-play drive with three completed passes to march 66 yards to score. A cross-field pass to Gibson gained the last 12 yards for Pierce City's touchdown. A dropped pass spoiled the two-point conversion, leaving the score at 6-7 as the half ended.
As the third quarter started, Sooter kept the ball for Pierce City for three runs and the drive stalled in four plays. Miller gave the ball back in four more plays. Pierce City pushed the ball to the Miller 16-yard line but fell out of scoring range on a penalty and two incomplete passes. Miller then moved the ball 51 yards in 10 plays to end the third quarter.
It took seven more plays for the Cardinals to score. A 10-yard pass to Eaton and runs by Clark and Hinshaw set up Hinshaw's through-the-middle five-yard run to score. The extra point kick failed, putting the score at 13-6 with a little over nine minutes left to play.
A failed on-sides kick and a penalty on Miller gave Pierce City possession at the Cardinals' 35. A Sooter pass to Gibson put the ball at the 13 yard-line. Two plays later Sooter tossed the ball into a crowded end zone where Miller's Jordan Moots pulled it down and ran 35 yards to kill the Pierce City drive.
Miller gave the ball back in four plays, punting down to the Eagles' 17-yard line. Pierce City's drive appeared to stall six plays later, but the fourth down pass to Jared Barchak turned into a 17-yard gain. Barchak fell hard at the end of the play after forward progress had stopped. The ball bounced up into the hands of Hinshaw who ran with it for an apparent TD when officials did not blow the play dead. Upon review, officials ruled Barchak down, setting the Eagles at the Miller 46-yard line with three and a half minutes left on the clock.
Sooter then connected on passes to Barchak and Palmer. Grabbing his pass on the four-yard-line, Palmer rumbled into the end zone to score, carrying his tackler with him.
One point behind, Pierce City opted for a two-point conversion. Runningback Alex Clayton, however, found no daylight and fell short, leaving the score 13-12 with two and a half minutes left to play.
Miller wound the clock down to 30 seconds after four plays. Sooter, who connected on six of eight fourth quarter passes, pushed the Eagles toward midfield with a pass to Barchak. His third pass attempt was intercepted. The Miller quarterback took a knee to run out the remaining seconds.
Sooter led the Eagles' offense with 103 yards on 16 carries. Palmer had 61 yards on six carries.
Clark was Miller's leader with 120 yards on 20 carries. Hinshaw had 48 yards on 15 carries.
Pierce City will play in Sarcoxie on Friday.
In other bi-county games, Marionville rolled over Stockton 42-20.