Clutch overtime plays led Santa Barbara High football to an electric double-overtime victory over St. Paul by a score of 41-35 on Friday in the CIF-SS Division 4 opener.
After regulation ended in a 28-28 tie, the Golden Tornado, Santa Barbara High’s nickname for the playoff run, started with the ball in overtime.
They wasted no time, as Koa Herrera ripped off a 20-yard run that ended with him fumbling at the goal line. However, the ball found the hands of Santa Barbara wide receiver Winston Bartley, who was in the endzone.
The Swordsman answered right back, scoring on the first play of their drive thanks to a strong catch and run by Orlando Zepeda.
In double overtime, Golden Tornado defensive back DJ Wilson came up clutch, forcing a fumble and giving the ball to Abel Renteria and the Santa Barbara offense with a chance to win the game.
They did just that, capping off their offensive drive with Renteria’s patented 1-yard quarterback sneak touchdown, sending the Santa Barbara sideline into a frenzy.
The Dons will play host to Corona Del Mar for a quarterfinal matchup next Friday at Peabody Stadium.
As for regulation, Santa Barbara High jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 41-yard field goal by Thiago Valerio and a 14-yard touchdown pitch and catch from Renteria to Bartley.
St. Paul answered with a 60-yard rushing touchdown by Anthony Osorio to cut into the Golden Tornado lead before the end of the first quarter.
Valerio added on a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter, and that was all the scoring for the half, giving Santa Barbara High a 13-7 heading into the locker rooms.
The Swordsmen got the scoring started in the third quarter thanks to a 2-yard touchdown rush by Ty Bowers, taking their first lead of the night at 14-13 midway through the third quarter.
The Golden Tornado responded quickly, capping off a fast drive with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Herrera to regain the lead at 20-14.
Osorio and St. Paul punched right back just before the end of the third quarter with another short rushing touchdown, flipping the lead back to the Swordsmen at 21-20.
In the fourth quarter, Santa Barbara High leaned on the run game and it paid off, as Renteria finished off another scoring drive with a quarterback sneak touchdown.
Following the score, Renteria connected with Kai Mault for a crucial two-point conversion, giving the Golden Tornado a 28-21 advantage with 9:21 to go.
The back-and-forth play continued on the ensuing drive when the Swordsman got an impressive contested catch touchdown by Zepeda, knotting the game up at 28-28 with 1:57 left.
Renteria and the Santa Barbara High offense couldn’t get into field-goal position, and St. Paul was unable to score in the final seconds of regulation, setting up the dramatic double-overtime finish.
The Golden Tornado are now 9-2 and have won eight straight games. Their quarterfinal opponent, Corona Del Mar, is coming off a 40-21 win over Paraclete in the first round.