Hayti's Anton Jones (left) is trapped by Thayer defenders Jacob Eckman (10) and Michael Lowther during Monday's Class 1 quarterfinal football game at Hayti. Hayti outgained Thayer 283-121 in total offense, but Thayer won 14-13.
"That's the two things that killed us tonight," Gilmore said after Hayti suffered a 14-13 loss to the Bobcats Monday night. "I told the kids all week (that) the two weak area we've got on our football team is we've turned the ball over too many times -- which we did (six) times here -- and (our kicking).
"We missed an extra point because we took a play off (and) we got it blocked. We had a bad snap on our punt game (that) put them on the 1-yard line and then we missed a field goal at the end of the ballgame."
Hayti's Jerome Covington (right) outruns Thayer's Matt Kojdecki to the end zone on a touchdown reception during the fourth quarter of Monday's Class 1 quarterfinal game at Hayti.
However, the Bobcats also contained Hayti's high-octane running game, holding the quartet of Jerome Covington, Anton Jones, Michael Vaughn and Jamestic Gooden to just 84 yards on 27 carries. Factor in sacks and a 27-yard loss on the bad punt snap, the Tribe managed just 18 yards on the ground.
"We didn't do a good job blocking the edge all night long," said Gilmore. "They had a great gameplan in store for us. We practiced it all week -- we knew they was going to slant across our receivers' faces. We just did not get the job done on the edge perimeter blocking.
Despite their struggles, the Indians trailed by just one point after Jerome Covington hauled in a 29-yard pass from Shaun Jones with 6:18 left in the game. But Thayer's Michael Lowther -- better known as the team's star running back -- broke through the line and blocked the extra point to preserve his team's lead.
"I just knew I had to get it," said Lowther. "Everyone blocked everyone else and I just ran through there and blocked it like I was supposed to do."
Hayti (11-1) had one final chance, as George Hamilton III's catch set up first-and-goal late in the game. But the Tribe's drive stalled and Abidin Bajrami's potential game-winning 25-yard field goal sailed wide left.
"I'm not going to second-guess myself," Gilmore said. "I'm going to try to kick that field goal 10 times out of 10 from 25 yards out. The kid's been doing it -- he was kicking 35-yarders in warmups -- and as a coach you've got to believe in your players."
Shaun Jones was 18-for-35 passing for 265 yards with a touchdown, while Hamilton finished with 107 yards on seven catches and Covington added 91 yards on seven catches. Anton Jones led the ground game with 46 yards on 10 carries.
The loss ended the Indians' best season since 2002, when the Tribe made it to the state finals, and also marked the team's first playoff appearance since then.
"I'm very proud of these young men," Gilmore said. "We've had a great season. We put Hayti back in the playoffs where they belong. I'm very proud of the direction this program has went over the last 7-8 years. ..."
"In 1999, we were thinking about dropping football in Hayti. That would have been a sad day for this school because we have a lot of talent here. I'm very fortunate to be a part of the coaching staff that's come through and helped these young men bring the football program back to life."
Said senior Cody Chandler: "It's an honor just to get here. We've done what past Hayti teams haven't done in a while -- get back to the playoffs. Hopefully we've set the tone for next year's team and all that."
Added senior lineman William Cooper: "It was a great football game. We've been preaching on effort all year. I feel like we gave all the effort we could, but we came up a little short, though. But that's how things work out sometimes."