EL CENTRO — The Central Spartans hosted the Imperial Tigers Friday in an exciting overtime game as the Spartans held on to defeat the Tigers in double overtime with a score of 24-21.
In the first quarter of play, the Tigers scored the only points of the period with a rushing touchdown on a hand-off by quarterback Wyatt Rodriguez to running back Brandon Hueso. With a successful extra-point attempt, the Tigers closed out the first quarter with a score of 7-0.
At the start of the second quarter, the Spartans engaged a quick drive down field and took the ball to the three-yard line with 11:46 still on the clock. On the snap, quarterback Deniro Osuna ran a QB keeper into the back of the end zone. After a good PAT attempt, the Spartans had evened the playing field.
“With the Tigers being first to score, we had to adjust by slowing down the tempo of the game by utilizing our receiver and correcting the errors we’d made,” said Spartans Head Coach David Pena after the game.
The Tigers had no luck with their possession, and the clock wound down to 7:19 as the Spartans took possession. On the punt return, Spartan Jonathan Medina carried the ball to their 36-yard line.
The next play, Osuna handed the ball off to Medina, who broke the tackle in the backfield for a 30-yard run. Then Osuna completed a pass downfield to wide receiver Thadeo Campbell for 15 yards. But two incomplete throws later, Osuna finally connected with Bradley Deniro for a first down.
With the ball on the 12-yard line, Osuna completed a pass to Campbell, pushing the Spartans five yards closer to the end zone. On the following play, Osuna completed a short pass to Adrian Atondo who ran in for a touchdown.
With the remainder of the half scoreless, the Spartans went into halftime up 14-7.
In the third quarter, the Tigers took the field to return the kick off as Aaron Moreno returned the ball. Following a late hit call, the Tigers’ offense took the field at the 48-yard line, but Imperial was unable to convert on a fourth down attempt and the Spartans took over on their own side of the field.
Osuna led his team down field until the Tigers changed the momentum with an interception by Preston Roben who blasted away from the Spartans for a touchdown on the opposite side of the field. The Tigers missed the extra point attempt, and the Spartans remained up by one, with a score of 14-13.
The remainder minutes of the third quarter stayed scoreless and the Spartans held onto the ball to start off the fourth quarter. But neither team was able to convert until Spartan Tyrese Marsh found the end zone for a touchdown to increase their lead.
The Tigers answered with a quick drive. With a pass down field, Rodriguez completed a throw to Joseph Tarango, putting the Tigers at the 10-yard line. On the next play, the Tigers handed the ball to Hueso who sprinted into the end zone. With a chance to tie the game, the Tigers went for a two-point conversion on a pass that was caught by Santiago De La Torre, bringing the score to 21-21.
Both teams were unable to break the tie, and the game moved into overtime.
The Tigers went first on a conversion attempt from the 25-yard line, but failed to score. Both teams ended up failing to score on their drives, sending the game into double overtime.
In the second OT, the Spartans grabbed the win with a field goal that brought the final score to 24-21.
“With the game going into double overtime, our team’s conditioning paid off and kept us in the game to help us walk away with the victory,” said the Spartans’ Coach Pena.
With this win, Central will take to the road to face the Palo Verde Valley Yellowjackets for their next league match up, while the Tigers stay at home to face-off against the Southwest Eagles October 20.