HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Hannibal football coach Mark St. Clair believed enough time remained for either Dezi Jones or Danny Colborn to make the catch and get to the ground so a timeout could be called to set up one final play.
"It would have been close," St. Clair said.
Graham Bundy Jr. never gave the Pirates the chance to find out.
With Hannibal facing third and 2 from the MICDS 22-yard line and five seconds remaining in regulation, Pirates quarterback Gabe Worthington threw a pass over the middle of the field intended for Jones, but Colborn was in the vicinity as well.
Neither got to the ball as Bundy jumped between them to intercept the pass and return it 96 yards for a touchdown to put an exclamation point on the Rams' 34-21 victory Saturday in the Class 4 state quarterfinals at Porter Stadium.
"We just kept going and weren't going to be denied," said Bundy, who has signed to play lacrosse at Georgetown.
It was the third big play Bundy made in the game's final minute that determined the outcome.
Hannibal led 21-20 before Bundy caught a 9-yard touchdown pass thrown to the back corner of the end zone by Rams freshman quarterback Reagan Andrew with 45 seconds remaining. Bundy made it a seven-point advantage when he ran behind the right side of the line for the two-point conversion.
"That kid made a really fine catch in the end zone," St. Clair said.
It capped a 16-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up 5 minutes, 32 seconds and featured three third-down conversions and a 4-yard pickup by Bundy on fourth and 1 at the Pirates' 47-yard line.
A bigger play could have been the fumble by the Rams' Garrison Moody on second and 4 from the MICDS 37-yard line. Hit at the line of scrimmage, Moody watched the ball pop out of his hands and into the arms of MICDS lineman Raphael Sowah, who fell on it for a 3-yard gain.
"We just couldn't catch a break," St. Clair said.
The Pirates needed one to keep a season and a legendary career going.
This was the third time in the last four seasons Hannibal (9-4) has lost in the state quarterfinals, and it brings an end to St. Clair's Hall of Fame career. He announced before the season began he was retiring after 22 seasons at the helm.
MICDS (12-1) advances to face Smithville in next week's semifinals. Ladue Horton Watkins and Webb City will meet in the other semifinal.
"It's always hard," Hannibal senior linebacker Alec Mundle said. "It's especially hard when you have a tight group of kids. We've been working so hard, all summer and all season, and it paid off. We couldn't get it to where we wanted to, but it's still great. Obviously, this hurts, but there's not a better group of guys I'd want to do this with."
Hannibal drove 65 yards and chewed up 5:36 of the clock on the game's opening drive, getting a 3-yard touchdown run from Kadin Morgan for a 6-0 lead. After forcing the Rams to punt, the Pirates doubled the lead in just two plays as Daylan Reading, who had 121 yards rushing, ripped off a 47-yard touchdown run with 3:20 to go in the first quarter.
"We got after it," St. Clair said.
The momentum stalled when the Pirates reached the red zone on their third drive. An incomplete pass by Worthington on fourth and 3 from the Rams' 17-yard line turned the ball over with 9:40 remaining in the second quarter.
MICDS took advantage by driving 83 yards, with Tyler Purdy catching a 47-yard touchdown pass on a ball thrown over the top of Hannibal's defense. After Hannibal went three-and-out on its next drive, Bundy returned a punt 87 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
Another turnover on downs led to Purdy catching another touchdown pass over the top for a 24-yard score and a 20-12 halftime lead.
"We had to make some adjustments at halftime," St. Clair said. "And our kids got after it."
MICDS went three-and-out twice, got stuffed on fourth and 2 and had a pass intercepted on its first four drives of the second half.
"Our offense had a lot of trust in our defense," Hannibal senior tight end Lawson Rickey said. "They had some good stops and put us in good situations."
A 2-yard touchdown run by Reading and Jones' 30-yard field goal gave Hannibal the lead with a minute left in the third quarter.
There was too much time left for the Rams to finally find their stride, and not enough time for the Pirates to make a miracle happen.
"We gave it a good go," St. Clair said. "I'm proud of that."
Class 4 quarterfinal
MICDS 34, Hannibal 21
16 First downs 21
28-103 Rushes-yards 48-253
192 Passing yards 60
295 Total yards 313
19-29-1 Comp-Att-Int 7-14-1
2-0 Fumbles-lost 1-1
8-63 Penalties-yards 7-59
MICDS 0 20 0 14--34
Hannibal 12 0 9 0--21
H--Kadin Morgan 3 run (run failed), 6:24
H--Daylan Reading 47 run (run failed), 3:20
M--Tyler Purdy 47 pass from Reagan Andrew (Graham Bundy Jr. kick), 6:37
M--Bundy Jr. 87 punt return (kick failed), 5:12
M–Purdy 24 pass from Andrew (Bundy Jr. kick), :35
H--Daylan Reading 2 run (pass failed), 7:28
H--Dezi Jones 30 FG, 1:00
M--Bundy Jr. 9 pass from Andrew (Bundy Jr. run), :45
M--Bundy Jr. 96 interception return (no PAT attempt), :00
RUSHING--MICDS, Nate Smith 5-44, Bundy Jr. 9-33, Thomas Niedringhaus 1-10, Andrew 9-9, Purdy 3-4, Garrison Moody 1-3. Hannibal, Daylan Reading 16-121, Damien French 16-70, Gabe Worthington 12-55, Dante Reading 2-7, Morgan 1-3, Will Whitaker 1-(minus 3).
PASSING--MICDS, Andrew 19-29-192-1. Hannibal, Worthington 7-14-60-1.
RECIVING--MICDS, Purdy 6-78, Smith 6-57, Bundy Jr. 3-17, Niedringhaus 2-22, Crawford Bundy 1-11, Kyle Bradntjen 1-7. Hannibal, Jones 3-31, Danny Colborn 2-18, Whitaker 1-7, Daylan Reading 1-4.