The end was impossible. It was controversial. It was heartbreak for Island Coast.
The Gators saw victory slip from their grasp Friday night as Sarasota Booker somehow pulled out a 33-27 win in the quarterfinal round of the Region 5A-4 football playoffs.
The officials played a huge role in the result. It seemed as though the Gators (7-3) had held off the Tornadoes (7-3) when Island Coast blocked Miguel Rebollo's extra-point attempt with 26 seconds left. They were clinging to a 27-26 lead. Booker then went for the onside kick.
Island Coast junior Quinn Bourque (14) looks downfield as he scrambles to the left in Friday night's regional quarterfinal game. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.
It appeared the Tornadoes touched the ball before it went 10 yards, so even though Booker recovered the kick it would have been a penalty and Island Coast's ball.
However, after one of many conferences by the officiating crew during the night, the ruling was Island Coast had touched the ball first and Booker was awarded possession.
Gators coach Joe Bowen addressed the issue as carefully as he could.
"I can't make any comments on that. I can't make any comments on that," Bowen said. "It is what it is. You can write what you thought, but I can't. Our official dropped the bag that meant they touched it at the 8-yard mark. Then they said somebody else - they said we touched it. They said we touched it first, but the guy on our side said they touched it first."
On the next play, Jermiah Henderson threw a perfect 51-yard touchdown pass to a well-covered Marlon Mack. After another officials' conference, the Tornadoes had the TD and the win.
"It's not over until it's over," Tornadoes coach Johnnie Jones said. "We started a chant: We will win. We will win. After they started to say it, they said it with passion.
"I told the players: This game isn't over. When the clock says 0:00 and we've left everything we have on the field we will win. That's what they did. Everybody bought in."
The Tornadoes erased Island Coast's 27-13 lead in the final 8:52 of the game.
Mack ran for a 10-yard touchdown to cut the margin to 27-20. Booker got down inside the Gators' 10 in the final minute, and it looked briefly as though Island Coast made the defensive stop that would end the game. However, on fourth down, Henderson hit Darius Jones from 8 yards out.
The blocked extra point seemed to have saved the game for Island Coast. It hadn't. It was the second time the game turned completely around.
The Gators turned a 13-6 halftime deficit into a 27-13 lead in the third quarter.
Trey Boyd ran 63 yards on the first play from scrimmage of the second half to tie the game. Quinn Bourque's 6-yard keeper put the Gators out front.
Korey Murphy intercepted Henderson's pass and ran in back 15 yards to make it 27-13.
"We came out flat (from halftime) and they popped us in the mouth," Jones said. "Boom!"
Island Coast held a 3-0 lead with 6:39 left in the first half when things went seriously wrong for the Gators in a three-minute span. A personal foul on a kickoff return set up Henderson's 45-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Shamyren Waters to put Booker ahead.
On Island Coast's next possession, Bourque fumbled. Stanley Collins scooped up the loose ball and ran it to the Gators' 10. Mack scored on the next play and Island Coast was behind 13-3. Bourque's second field goal of the game in the final minute of the half brought Island Coast within 13-6 at the break. Bourque's field goals were from 26 and 28 yards.
"I take my hat off to Island Coast," Jones said. "That's a tough ball club. It was like pulling teeth. It was a tough fight. And they're going to be smoking (next year) because a lot of those guys are juniors."
"Hopefully we'll learn from this and maybe next year be a little better than this," Bowen said.
Booker 0 13 0 20 - 33?
Island Coast 0 6 21 0 - 27?
IC - FG, Bourque 26?
B - Waters 45 pass from Henderson (Rebollo kick)
IC - Boyd 63 run (Bourque kick)?
IC - Bourque 6 run (Bourque kick)
B - Mack 10 run (Rebollo kick)?
B - Jones 8 pass from Henderson (kick blocked)