KAHOKA, Mo. -- The Clark County football team knew it was in a place not many outside the program expected.
The Indians couldn't keep their surprise playoff run last one more week.
Clark County fell behind by three touchdowns early to Lafayette County and couldn't recover in a 45-22 loss in Saturday's Class 2 state semifinals. After starting the season 1-4, and winning just two games last season, Clark County ends this season with a 9-5 record.
Lafayette County (14-0) will play Lamar, a 7-6 winner over Lutheran North, in Friday's state title game at Faurot Field.
"It was awesome, because nobody expected us to be here," Clark County's Caleb Lapsley said. "But losing is the worst feeling."
The troubles started early for the Indians as they went three-and-out on the first drive before Lafayette County drove 59 yards to take a 7-0 lead.
Lapsley fumbled the ball on the next play from scrimmage, and the Huskers recovered at Clark County's 17-yard line. Lafayette County found the end zone again four plays later to lead 13-0.
Clark County's troubles compounded when Spencer Gregory fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The teams then traded punts before Lafayette County scored again to lead 19-0 with seven minutes left in the second quarter. The Indians still hadn't recorded a first down.
"We just started out slow and kept shooting ourselves in the foot," Clark County lineman Jack Hunziker said. "It was tough to recover from that."
Clark County finally scored when quarterback London Brunk connected with Dalton Albert down the right sideline for a 36-yard touchdown on the Indians' next series, but the Huskers responded with a 77-yard kickoff return for touchdown to push the lead to 25-7.
After another quick series for Clark County, Lafayette County went on a 66-yard scoring drive to take a 31-7 advantage.
"We had dug ourselves in so big a hole, it was tough to try and battle back," Clark County coach Ethan Allen said. "I thought we fought fairly hard. We just never could get over that hump, and that's how it goes sometimes."
The Indians stole momentum at the end of the first half when Brunk orchestrated a 12-play scoring drive that he capped with a 1-yard plunge as time expired in the second quarter. That momentum was short-lived, however, as Brunk left the game on the Indians' first defensive series of the second half with concussion-like symptoms.
Lapsley took over under center and led a scoring drive that ended when he scored from 1 yard that pulled the Indians back to within two scores at 38-22 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Those were the last points for Clark County.
"I felt a little bit more pressure because I haven't had a ton of experience," Lapsley said. "But I gave it the best I could for my team."
The Indians hope that the deep playoff run is a turning point for the program.
"I'm happy with our season. We did a lot of great things," Allen said. "Obviously I wanted to keep going and play in a state championship, but we definitely turned a page and are headed in the right direction."
Brunk finished with 78 yards on 6-for-10 passing, while Lapsley was 6 for 16 passing for 59 yards and an interception. Lapsley led the Indians with 58 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Lafayette County 45, Clark County 22
16 First downs 11
58-308 Rushes-yards 26-85
66 Passing yards 137
374 Total yards 222
6-8-0 Comp-Att-Int 12-26-1
2-1 Fumbles-lost 3-2
7-50 Penalties-yards 5-39
Lafayette Co. 13 18 7 7--45
Clark Co. 0 15 7 0--22
L--Kinser Madison 2 run (Chase Looney kick), 7:17
L--Madison 3 run (2-pt failed), 5:28
L--Madison 1 run (2-pt failed), 7:09
C--Dalton Albert 36 pass from London Brunk (Caleb Lapsley kick), 6:42
L--Elijah Thirkield 77 kickoff return (2-pt failed), 6:30
L--Trenton Rankin 14 run (2-pt failed), 2:10
C--Brunk 1 run (Joe Crowell pass from Brunk), 0:00
L--Thirkield 47 run (Looney kick), 9:23
C--Lapsley 1 run (Lapsley kick), 3:03
L--Thirkield 8 pass from Madison (Looney kick), 7:59
RUSHING--Lafayette Co., Madison 23-124, Thirkield 21-137, Mason Gash 9-21, Rankin 4-26. Clark Co., Lapsley 12-58, Spencer Gregory 4-13, Brunk 4-(-6), Garrett Brammer 3-12, Zeb Riney 2-7, Chayson Kleine 1-1.
PASSING--Lafayette Co., Madison 6-8-66-0. Clark Co., Brunk 6-10-78-0, Lapsley 6-16-59-1.
RECEIVING--Lafayette Co., Thirkield 4-48, Looney 2-18. Clark Co., Riney 4-39, Albert 3-58, Logan Claiborne 2-27, Crowell 2-9, Gregory 1-4.