Francisco Pantoja drilled a 30-yard field goal as time expired to lift the No. 8-seeded Fresno High Warriors to a 40-37 win against No. 9-seed East Bakersfield at McLane Stadium on Thursday night.
The Warriors (8-3) advance to a Division III quarterfinal against top-seed Bakersfield Christian (9-1) on Nov. 18.
Fresno bolted to a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter on Lee Major’s 28-yard touchdown run up the middle, but a failed kick on the PAT allowed the Blades (8-4) to muster a last-minute comeback in front of 2,500 fans.
East forced a fumble by Warriors running back Santos Arreola to set up Richard Lara’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Alan Lopez. Lara then found Joseph Robinson for the two-point conversion pass.
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With 2:27 remaining, the Blades recovered the onside kick and worked the game clock down to 52 seconds when they scored on Brandon Austin’s 6-yard rush and tied it up on Lara’s two-point conversion pass to Garrett Sherman.
“I think those last two minutes, everything that could’ve gone right for them, went right for them,” Warriors head coach Joe Marquez said.
After the Warriors went three-and-out, they had one go their way.
East fumbled on the ensuing punt and Fresno senior Josue Felix jumped on the ball at the Blades’ 10-yard line with 9 seconds remaining, setting up Pantoja’s winner two plays later.
“We came out and dominated the second half except for those two minutes. I think we showed the type of football we can play,” Marquez said.
Major led the Warriors with a game-high 163 yards rushing including touchdown runs of 3, 8, and 28 yards. Lara led the Blades on 20 for 34 passing for 228 yards to go with two interceptions.