A very tough overtime thriller

Scripps Ranch running back Joseph Kabandauli breaks loose for a 56-yard touchdown against Palm Springs High School. (photos by John Gregory)

A very tough overtime thriller

The Scripps Ranch High School varsity football team lost a heartbreaker in overtime at home against Palms Springs High School on Friday night, Sept. 1.

The score was tied at 28 at the end of regulation time. Game officials met with each coach to explain the rules for this very rare high school football overtime period. Both teams alternated going on offense from the 25-yard line. This thrilling OT shootout lasted a total of four possessions, two by each team.

Each scored on their initial OT drive and each added an extra point. Then Palm Springs scored a touchdown on its second possession of overtime, and it was the Falcons turn again. Although driving, Scripps Ranch lost the game on a final pass attempt that fell incomplete in the end zone.

The fans got their money’s worth at this home opener for the Falcons, and most stayed until the end of this dramatic game on a very warm evening. Temperatures were so high that the junior varsity game preceding the varsity contest was moved back an hour to 4 p.m., delaying the start of the varsity game by a half hour. The varsity game ended shortly before 10 p.m., and the players looked exhausted by that time.

Scripps Ranch got the scoring started in the first quarter when Joseph Kabandauli broke loose for a 56-yard scamper for a TD. Kicker Matt Killam added the extra point.

Palm Springs answered when it recovered a Falcons fumble and scored with a 41-yard TD pass, and made the extra point kick to tie the score.

Later in the first quarter, Palm Springs returned a Scripps Ranch punt 60 yards for a TD. The extra point was good and Palm Springs lead 14-7.

In the second quarter, Palm Springs rushed for a 17-yard TD and made the extra point to make the score 21-7.

Scripps Ranch came back with a drive ending in a TD run, but the extra point was missed and the Falcons trailed 13-21.

Later in the second quarter, Scripps Ranch came back with a touchdown pass followed by a successful two-point conversion. Halftime ended with the score tied at 21 apiece.

A Scripps Ranch player takes to the air to avoid Palm Springs tacklers.

Palm Springs opened the scoring late in the second half on an 83-yard pass for a TD, followed by a successful extra point to put Palm Springs ahead 28-21.

But in the fourth quarter, Scripps Ranch quarterback Daniel Cox fired a 31-yard TD pass to Keith Davis. Matt Killam made the extra point and the score was tied at 28-28.

The fourth quarter became a seesaw battle and there was a moment when Scripps Ranch had a chance to break the tie with a tricky field goal. Kicker Matt Killam’s kick was long enough, but it hit the right upright directly and bounced back onto the playing field. It was an incredible sight and game’s drama intensified dramatically as it appeared more likely the game would end in a tie. Many in attendance were confused about whether or not high school rules included overtime, but sure enough, game officials met with the coaches of each team and soon the team captains were on the field for the overtime coin toss.

Scripps Ranch scored first in overtime with a rushing TD. Killam added the extra point and the Falcons were ahead 35-28.

But now it was time for Palm Springs to have a chance. Sure enough, the visitors completed a TD pass, added the extra point and the game was tied at 35 each.

Palm Springs was given possession a second time and drove into the end zone on 25-yard rushing TD. The extra point was good and now the Falcons trailed 42-35.

The intensity was at a high level as Scripps Ranch was given possession at the 25. The Falcons were driving but failed to score on a few last chance pass attempts. The team was so close, but the final pass fell incomplete in the end zone on their final down.

Palm Springs High was a confident team, especially considering the fact the players were playing away from home in a different city. They had a few unusually large linemen, monsters clearly bigger than any of the Scripps Ranch players. In spite of being outweighed on both the offensive and defensive lines, Scripps Ranch was feisty and demonstrated moments of excellent blocking, opening holes for runners on several occasions.

Defensively, the Falcons gave up some big plays to some very talented skill players from Palm Springs, and some key tackles were missed. The punt return by Palm Springs was a good example of bad tackling. But Scripps Ranch players seemed to learn from their mistakes, staying in the game and making some big plays of their own. A team of lesser character would have given up. Plays from scrimmage were not bad, especially considering some of the line matchups against the giants from Palm Springs. The Falcons didn’t fold; they appeared to be well-conditioned to play in the heat and line play was impressive as the Falcons defense stopped drives by Palm Springs several times.

This spirited Scripps Ranch team can take several important lessons from this overtime experience and play with well-earned confidence as they embark on the rest of the season. It won’t be an easy one as they will play the majority of their games on the road.

Players, students, parents and fans can look forward to Homecoming next week as the Falcons take on University High School at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 at home.

Reese Barnhill scampers for extra yardage.
Reese Barnhill attempts to sidestep traffic.
Rashad Griffin looks for running room downfield as Keith Davis sets up to block.
Joseph Kabandauli begins another run from scrimmage.
Falcons offensive linemen open a big hole for their running back.
Reese Barnhill cuts downfield.
Rashad Griffin seems to fly down the field.
The Falcons defense closes in on a Palms Springs running back.
Keith Davis struggles to concentrate on the ball as he tries to make a catch to break the tie with Palm Springs in the final seconds.
Dejected Falcons players react to the painful overtime loss at the end of the game.
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