MODESTO -- Mom dared her son to kick a football, and with buckets of bravado and a soccer pedigree, Kenny Smart did her one better.
The Central Catholic kicker nearly booted his way onto an all-time national leaderboard.
With a successful extra point to start Friday's 34-13 semifinal victory over Center in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs, Smart ran his season-long streak to 80 without a miss.
The right-footed junior split the uprights following the first of Ray Lomas' three touchdowns, a feat that wasn't lost on the Central Catholic sideline. A group of fans with field access celebrated No. 80 as best-ever chatter began to heat up.
Indeed, Smart was closing in on a national top-10 for consecutive extra points. However, he'd have his next PAT blocked, stopping his charge up the all-time rankings at 80 the 13th-best streak, according to National Federation of State High School Associations.
Kim Braswell, of Avondale Estates in Georgia, holds the record with 134 consecutive extra points from 1965-68.
Smart, one shy of joining a three-way tie for 10th, could hear whispers of his rise in circles on campus and along the sideline.
"Some people had talked to me about it, but I really didn't want to think about it too much," he said. "I didn't want it in my head, so I was just kind of going and taking each one, kick by kick."
No. 81 never had a chance, about the only sour note from Central Catholic's resounding victory.
Center's Robert Gervais broke through the left side of the line virtually untouched and was on Smart and holder Garrett Ardis in an instant.
"I almost thought about pulling it, because you could feel the guy coming," Ardis said. "It was sad. It was a long streak. Congrats to Kenny."
Smart managed to get off the kick, but the ball was snared by Gervais, signaling the end to one of the Stanislaus District's more remarkable streaks.
"Today, it just didn't work out. They got a good jump on the ball and were able to get in front of it," said Smart, who has three field goals and 44 touchbacks. "I would have liked it to go all season, but I'm glad it got as far as it did."
It was easy to temper the disappointment on Friday evening. The Raiders, as a whole, did very little wrong in turning this semifinal showdown into an exhibition of coach Roger Canepa's will.
The Raiders ran it, tackled it and, yes, kicked it with little resistance in scoring the game's first 13 points and building a 27-7 halftime lead.
Coaches, players and fans reveled in team glory, lingering on the field for nearly 30 minutes after the final whistle. Smart huddled with a group of friends. While he hated to see his personal streak come to an end, he found solace in the demise of another.
The Raiders (11-2) were back in a section final.
Central Catholic the section's most decorated football program with 15 section titles clinched its first finals appearance since 2008, when it was shocked by Hilmar 17-6.
"We wanted to make the section final," Canepa said in the postgame huddle, "and now we're headed back there. I'm proud of the way we worked."
The Raiders will take on Escalon (11-2) on Saturday, and one of the many subplots will be the matchup of junior kickers.
The Cougars feature Thomas Diniz, who has 56 PATs, four field goals and the same pluckiness as Smart.
Diniz's signature kick came in the final seconds of a second-round shocker. His 33-yard boot beat top-seeded Placer, a favorite to sweep through D4 playoffs and play in Northern California bowl.
Smart can appreciate moments like that, though they've been few and far between for his Raiders. Central Catholic has won nine straight games by 19 or more points.
"Even though I love when my team wins by a lot, I like those close games when all the pressure is on me," said Smart, who has made 187 PATs and 11 field goals since taking his mom's dare as a freshman.
"I enjoy the pressure. For more, it's not 'Oh, no, if miss this kick, the games gonna be over. I lost.' The way I think about it is 'When I make this kick, our team will move on, win a big game and stuff like that.' "
No. 6 Central Catholic finds itself in another big game, one that pits the district's top private and public schools against one another.
And among the "stuff" in play on Saturday: Smart's new streak. He made his final three kicks after Gervais' block.
"By the time I looked up, they had already got a jump on the ball. I looked up and saw a blue jersey right in front of me and
it was blocked," Smart said. "I was like 'Oh, well. Well get 'em on the next one.'
"In games like this, in the playoffs, every point counts."
The most consecutive extra points without a miss, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations:
1. 134 Kim Braswell (Avondale Estates, Ga.) 1965-68
2. 123 Jerry Adams (Lowell, Mich.) 2007-08
3. 106 Jacob Noe (Nashville Hillsboro, Tenn.) 2007-08
4. 104 Joseph McCormick (Klein Collins, Texas) 2009-10
5. 96 Steven Mette (Rockford, Mich.) 2010-11
6. 93 Jason Bondzio (Humble, Texas) 2001-03
7. 86 Mike Jones (Steubenville, Ohio) 1998-2000
7. 86 Will Harris (Danville Boyle County, Ky.) 2010
9. 82 Alex Millard (Sioux Falls O'Gorman, SD) 2010-11
10. 81 Scott Bentley (Aurora Overland, Colo.) 1989-92
10. 81 Steve Bayer (Claremont) 1984-85
10. 81 Ross Krautman (Franklin Lakes Ramapo, N.J.) 2008-09
13. 80 Kenny Smart (Central Catholic) 2012