Essex clinched the Division Two title after beating Northamptonshire by an innings and 44 runs before lunch on day two at Chelmsford.
Northants resumed on 23-5 in their second innings, still 66 runs behind Essex's first-innings total of 170.
Sam Cook had taken nine wickets on day one, but it was Shane Snater who tore through the visitors' lower order.
The medium pacer took 4-7 in just three overs before Cook grabbed the final wicket as Northants were 45 all out.
Right-armer Cook posted match figures of 10-41 to end the season with 58 wickets at an average of 14.43 and further push his case for international recognition.
Essex registered three innings victories in their four Division Two games, with their final match of the campaign over in just 96.3 overs.
"We didn't feel great taking a photo next to the Division Two winners board," stand-in captain Dan Lawrence told BBC Essex.
"It's not something we're going to celebrate. We're a club that wants to be winning Division One.
"We've lost two games this season and yet we're finishing seventh.
"We feel we're in the top three teams in the country but that's fine - the boys need to stay hungry and understand we're disappointed even though we've finished nicely."
Elsewhere in Division Two, a career-best 205 not out from Chris Cooke helped Glamorgan wrack up a mammoth 672-6 against Surrey before they declared.
Meanwhile, Gloucestershire closed out a seven-wicket win over Durham as Pakistan left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar ended with career-best match figures of 11-101.
At Bristol, Zafar (30) helped Gloucestershire to 218 all out from their overnight score of 146-6, with Liam Trevaskis (5-78) the pick of the Durham bowlers as he recorded a maiden five-wicket haul.
That gave the hosts a first-innings lead of 78, and Durham slumped to 87-8 on a spin-friendly wicket.
Ben Raine (38 not out) helped a slight recovery as the visitors were dismissed for 131, with Zafar ending with 6-51.
Chris Rushworth removed both Gloucestershire openers and Zafar holed out to deep square off Trevaskis, but the hosts got the 54 runs they required without any further losses.
It was an an eighth victory for the county - their most in a campaign since 1998 - and secured a second-placed finish.
Glamorgan thrived in a batters' paradise at the Kia Oval, with captain Cooke at the crease throughout their innings on day two to surpass his previous first-class best of 171.
Resuming on 379-4, Kiran Carlson moved on from 45 to 69 before he was removed by Will Jacks but Cooke, who began the day on 44, then helped pile on 189 for the sixth wicket with Dan Douthwaite (59).
The visitors declared on their third-highest first-class total in their history soon after Cooke passed his double century, which included 18 fours and a six over the course of his 299-ball innings.
Surrey went unscathed through 15 overs in the evening to close on 45-0 in reply.
In a match between the top two at Canterbury, Middlesex eked out a narrow first-innings lead of nine runs by bowling out Kent for 138, as the hosts lost their final five wickets for just 26 runs.
Mark Stoneman then hit a century to extend Middlesex's advantage before chopping a Daniel Bell-Drummond delivery onto his own wicket on 109.
Robbie White (38), Stevie Eskinazi (31) and Luke Hollman (29 not out) chipped in to guide the visitors to 298-6 at the close, and a lead of 307 runs.
Worcestershire batted themselves ahead against Leicestershire at New Road, with Jake Libby and nightwatchman Charlie Morris putting on 125 for the second wicket.
After resuming on 30-1, the partnership was broken when Foxes skipper Callum Parkinson bowled Morris shortly after he had reached the second half-century of his first-class career.
Libby's 77, along with several solid middle-order contributions, saw the Pears to 378-6 at the close.
Ben Cox ended the day unbeaten on 52, with Ed Barnard 44 not out and the hosts 156 runs in front.
In the basement battle at Hove, Derbyshire resumed on 371-5 and were dismissed for 465 as Anuj Dal fell one run short of his half-century.
Ben Aitchison took three wickets to leave Sussex in deep trouble on 46-4 before a partnership of 142 between Ben Brown and Oli Carter steered the hosts away from the abyss.
Dustin Melton then took two quick wickets, including Carter (51) after he passed his maiden half-century to leave Sussex 188-6.
Yet Brown was unbeaten on 150 at stumps, with Sussex 255-6 and trailing by 210 runs.
Day two scoreboards
Chelmsford: Northampton 81 (Gay 38; S Cook 5-21, Porter 4-31) & 45 (S Cook 5-20, Snater 4-7) v Essex 170 (Wheater 34; White 4-40, Taylor 4-67). Essex won by an innings and 44 runs.
Bristol: Durham 140 (Lees 40; Zafar Gohar 5-50, Van Buuren 3-28) & 131 (Raine 38*; Zafar Gohar 6-51) v Gloucestershire 218 (Van Buuren 62; Trevaskis 5-78) & 54-3. Gloucestershire won by seven wickets.
Kia Oval: Glamorgan 672-6 dec (C Cooke 205*, Lloyd 121, Carlson 69, J Cooke 68, Douthwaite 59) v Surrey 45-0.
Canterbury: Middlesex 147 (Stoneman 59; Stevens 4-21) & 298-6 (Stoneman 109; Bell-Drummond 3-37) v Kent 138 (Muyeye 30; Bamber 3-36).
Worcester: Leicestershire 222 (Kimber 71; Leach 3-38) v Worcestershire 378-6 (Libby 77, Cox 52* Morris 50).
Hove: Derbyshire 465 (Madsen 111, Critchley 85, Godleman 52) v Sussex 255-6 (Brown 150*, Carter 51; Melton 3-47).