There was no doubt who Starkville High School coach Jamie Mitchell wanted to have the football on the final play of Friday night's game against the Columbus Falcons.
With the season on the line for the Yellowjackets, quarterback Jaquez Johnson took the snap on a two-point conversion attempt from the 1-yard line and slipped down at the 1/2 yard line.
That preserved a 34-32 victory for Columbus and eliminated Starkville from playoff consideration.
"We wanted the ball in his hands without a doubt," Mitchell said of the final play from scrimmage. "It's a play we've run a million times this year and I would have bet the house we could have gotten a yard and a half. We ended up about 6 inches short."
The Jackets ended the season with records of 5-6 overall and 3-4 in Class 6A, Region 1.
In a long line of disappointing losses, the one against the Falcons may have been the toughest of them all.
Starkville took an early 6-0 lead, then fell behind 7-6 and regained the advantage 14-7 by the end of the first quarter.
Columbus (4-7, 2-5) scored nine points in the second quarter to go up 16-14 at halftime.
The Falcons continued that momentum into the second half and stretched the margin to 22-14 before closed the gap to 22-20, 28-26 and finally 34-32, but could never tie the score or take the lead.
"A point or two here or there has been the story the entire year," Mitchell said. "That's the way the ball has bounced for us all year. The kids fought their tails off and battled to the last play
of the game. This is the fifth or sixth game all year that's come down to the last minute and it's been incredible. I can't tell you how crushed we are."
What made matters worse Olive Branch defeated Tupelo 43-13 so if the Jackets had won, they would have made the postseason which was a goal at the beginning of the season.
"We wanted to be in the playoffs, but we didn't do what it took to get there."
Despite the disappointment at the end, Johnson had a great final game in an SHS uniform with 26 carries for 121 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 11 of 14 pass attempts for 176 yards with another touchdown.