It wasn't until Andrew Zolintakis' pass on fourth-and-13 floated high over his receiver's head and bounced harmlessly on the sideline that the magic was, at long last, finally extinguished for the 2012 Campolindo High football team.
Right up until that moment, with 1:49 left on the game clock, it seemed possible -- probable, even -- that the host Cougars would somehow find a way to overcome a seemingly endless string of big-play knockout punches from Analy-Sebastopol.
In the end, the Tigers made too many huge plays on offense and just enough plays on defense to hold off the Cougars 38-34 in the second round of the North Coast Section Division III playoffs Friday.
No. 5 seeded Analy (12-0) advances to face the winner of Saturday's game between No. 1 El Cerrito (11-0) and No. 9 Bishop O'Dowd (7-4) in next week's semifinal.
"They've got big playmakers," Campolindo coach Kevin Macy said of the quick-striking Tigers. "When they need to, they can just put it up to a big playmaker. We don't have that option."
It seemed for all the world as though Darrin Newman's 80-yard dagger to big playmaker No. 1, Aaron Maher, which put Analy up 38-28 with 6:27 to play, would toll the death-knell for the No. 4 Cougars (10-2), the defending NCS Division III champions.
But Zolintakis marched them 65 yards in 58 seconds and five plays to draw within four points on a 31-yard strike to Hunter Rosenbaum. The ensuing PAT was blocked, but Analy
Newman arced a 57-yard bomb to Maher on Analy's first play from scrimmage to set up Kyle Lewis' 3-yard scoring plunge. Maher was virtually undefendable, catching eight balls for 217 yards and two scores.
Zolintakis, who took over at quarterback after starter Brett Stephens went out with a season-ending injury, completed 22 of 35 passes for 368 yards with an interception and four touchdown passes. His favorite target, Phillip Rei, caught six balls for 131 yards and two scores.
Newman went 22-for-38 for 347 yards, three touchdowns and one pick.
"This team has over-achieved all year long," Macy said. "With all the injuries ... the kids always fought and played hard."
Analy-Sebastopol 38, Campolindo 34
Analy 14 7 3 14-- 38
Campolindo 7 7 7 13-- 34
A -- Lewis 3 run (Newman kick)
A -- Maher 28 pass from Newman (Newman kick)
C -- Rei 7 pass from Zolintakis (Petite kick)
A -- Lewis 5 run (Newman kick)
C -- Rei 15 pass from Zolintakis (Petite kick)
A -- Newman 23 FG
C -- Yoklavich 40 pass from Zolintakis (Petite kick)
A -- Johnson 7 pass from Newman (Newman kick)
C -- Santaguida 1 run (Petite kick)
A -- Maher 80 pass from Newman (Newman kick)
C -- Rosenbaum 31 pass from Zolintakis (kick blocked)
Rushing: A -- Lewis 20-129, James 7-42, Newman 3-(-8). Totals 30-163. C -- Aikawa 4-20, Santaguida 5-9, Christian 4-7, Remotta 1-3, Rei 1-2, Hoffman 1-1, Zolintakis 3-(-8). Totals 19-34. Passing: A -- Newman 22-38-1 347. C -- Zolintakis 22-35-1 368. Receiving: A -- Mathias 9-78, Maher 8-217, Johnson 3-47, James 1-4, Lewis 1-1. C -- Rei 6-131, Rosenbaum 4-73, Dunn 4-39, Yoklavich 3-62, Samaniego 2-37, Remotta 1-14, Christian 1-12, Aikawa 1-0. Fumbles/lost: A -- 0/0; C -- 3/1. Records: Analy 12-0, Campolindo 10-2.