NEWTON — There were no words that could describe the way Quinter's Matt Bird felt.
Known for his offensive prowess as a wide receiver, Bird was asked by the Bulldogs' coaching staff to use his secure hands in a different way.
Clinging to a 28-26 lead and playing a soft zone defense Saturday in the 8-man Division I championship game, Quinter continued to watch Baileyville march down the field, moving closer to the endzone.
On what turned out to be the final play of the drive, Falcons' quarterback Kyle Haverkamp tried to thread the ball into tight coverage and Bird was right there to pick off the pass.
"I knew they were going to try and make a play toward the sideline," Bird said. "He made the throw right where I could get it. I tried to do what I've been doing all year."
The Bulldogs overcame a loss to Sharon Springs in the third week of the season, coach Greg Woolf being diagnosed with cancer and several other health issues within the program to win their first state championship since 1992 and snap Baileyville's 25-game winning streak.
"We have kind of been a team of destiny after what happened to all of us," Woolf said. "The kids have united and served together like brothers. It's been neat to watch."
Using an option-based attack, Quinter pounded out 152 yards on the ground in the first half. After not scoring on their first possession, the Bulldogs scored on their last three series of the first half — all via the running game.
"We thought we could expose their ends by having them make a play on Brady (Reed) or me," said Quinter running back Jordan Hargitt, who rushed for a game-high 112 yards. "Once we did that, it opened up the field for our running game."
Baileyville always had an answer, though, matching the Bulldogs for two possessions, before being stopped on Quinter's 2-yard line at the end of the first half. The Falcons however, did score on their first series of the second half, tying the score at 20-20.
The two teams exchanged scores on the next two possessions but Baileyville missed its two-point conversion and trailed 28-26 heading into the fourth quarter.
Including the final drive, Baileyville turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter — all by Haverkamp — and managed only 77 yards.
On the Falcons' last play, Haverkamp pump-faked his receiver, Ryan Huerter, to the inside but before Huerter could make his move to the outside, and Bird jumped the route and sealed the perfect ending to a storybook season.
"This is indescribable," Bird said. "With all the hard work we went through... it's so hard to believe right now."
Quinter (12-1) 6 14 8 0 — 28 Baileyville B&B (12-1) 6 8 6 6 — 26
Q—L. Reed 47 run (run failed)
B—Huerter 11 pass from Haverkamp (pass failed)
Q—B. Reed 2 run (B. Reed run)
B—Haverkamp 1 run (Haverkamp run)
Q—B. Reed 18 run (pass failed)
B—Huerter 1 run (pass failed)
Q—B. Reed 1 run (B. Reed run)
B—Heiman 3 pass from Haverkamp (pass failed)
Rushing—Quinter, Huerter 25-112, L. Reed 10-72, B. Reed 20-31. Baileyville, Huerter 14-91, Heiman 9-72, Haverkamp 17-57.
Passing—Quinter, B. Reed 8-13-42-0, Hargitt 1-1-33-0. Baileyville, Haverkamp 12-23-150-2.
Receiving—Quinter, Bird 6-58, Hargitt 3-17. Baileyville, Schraad 3-61, Huerter 3-38, Mueting 2-30, Haug 1-15, Sudbeck 1-6, Heiman 2-0.