Is it an emergency for a death in the family? If so call the airline directly and see if they can help you out with a bereavement fare. Look at nearby airports if you can. An airport 2 hours from us gets more airlines/flights and may be worth the drive.
I have used Hot Rate on Hotwire. You don’t get to choose your flight times, Hotwire chooses them, but the rates are decent enough that it’s worth it. Same with higher end hotels…rate is really good, but they choose the hotel. You don’t know which hotel you get until you’ve paid but we have Never been disappointed.
While 3rd party groups like priceline, expedia, etc. maybe be cheaper, be cautious using them because if you get delayed or cancelled they will not give you any type of reimbursement or credit. The airlines won’t even talk to you if you bougnt a 3rd party ticket. Just something to keep in mind. Try to book directly through the airline. Allegiant, Frontier and Spirirt will be your cheapest options.