As Ozark drove desperately down the field late in the game against Lee's Summit West, the sun began to break through the clouds over the Titans' stadium.
Then, Ozark shined.
Cody Lindsay scored on a late option pitch from David Salazar with 23 seconds left to cap an 80-yard drive in the final two minutes of the game, and Ozark rallied to stun Class 5 No. 1-ranked Lee's Summit West 26-23 Saturday in the Class 5 state quarterfinals.
The Tigers (11-1) will play at Fort Osage Friday for a berth in the Class 5 championship game.
Lindsay's dash on a play called "18 speed option" capped Ozark's rise from the ashes after Lee's Summit West had rallied from a 19-0 deficit to lead 23-19 with 2:33 to play.
"I'm speechless guys, to be honest with you," Ozark coach Mark Bliss said. "Our kids, holy cow, were they resilient today. It's all heart. Ninety percent of it is not coaching. It's these kids. And I'm so proud of them. God has blessed these kids all year long, and he continues to."
Salazar accounted for 70 yards on Ozark's final drive, going 4 for 7 passing for 63 yards and carrying five times for seven yards. He completed passes to senior teammates Levi Barnes, Chandler Robertson and Austin Roberts.
"Just relax, don't think too much about it, and just play like we always do," Salazar said of the talk in the huddle as the final drive started. "And good things will happen."
The Tigers converted 3rd-and-5, 4th-and-9 and 3rd-and-9 on the decisive march. On the game-winning play, with LSW dropping into pass coverage, Salazar found a crease and got five yards upfield before pitching to Lindsay, who did the rest.
It was a game Ozark controlled for the first two and a half quarters.
The Tigers opened the scoring on Lee's Summit's first possession when Ian Reese scooped up an errant Titans punt snap and scored from five yards out.
The Tigers went up 12-0 on Austin Roberts' 17-yard touchdown run halfway through the second quarter, and led 19-0 when Lindsay capped a 73-yard drive with a 2-yard run on Ozark's first possession of the third quarter.
But DeMarcus Edwards returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown to get Lee's Summit West on the board. Then the Titans recovered an Ozark fumble near midfield and scored eight plays later.
After an Ozark drive stalled inside the Titans' 20-yard line, LSW went 84 yards in about five minutes to go up 20-19 with 6:30 to go.
"The kids talked about the Glendale game last year," LSW coach Royce Boehm said, referring to the Titans' rally from a 28-0 deficit against the Falcons in last year's playoffs. "They had that fire. We challenged our kids, and they responded."
After an Ozark fourth-down pass from the Tigers' own 25-yard line on the ensuing possession fell incomplete with 4:40, the outcome seemed decided.
But the Tigers' defense held LSW to a 40-yard field goal to set up the final drive.
"It hasn't sunk in yet. It's amazing," Lindsay said. "We just had to keep pushing. For us seniors, it could have been the last game we ever played. We just had to leave it all on the field."
Salazar finished with 112 passing yards and 47 rushing yards for Ozark. Austin Roberts had seven carries for 77 yards and a touchdown, including a 62-yard run to set up the Tigers' third score.
Lindsay finished with 16 carries for 52 yards and two scores.
Running back Ryan Williams led Lee's Summit West with 24 carries for 157 yards. Outside of him, the Titans managed just 122 total yards.