Strathmore High survived not once, not twice, but three times Friday night at Hilmar in a state regional football play-in game.
The Spartans, two-time Central Section Division VI champions, beat the Yellowjackets 53-52 on a touchdown and two-point conversion.
All appeared lost for Strathmore late in the game when it failed to score from the Hilmar 5-yard line with 1:24 left trailing 38-30. With just two timeouts remaining, it appeared the Spartans’ undefeated season might be ending.
Instead, Strathmore recovered a Yellowjackets fumble, scored on Joseph Garcia’s fifth touchdown of the game and got a 2-point run by Garcia to make it 38-38 with 1:06 left.
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The Spartans got reprieve No. 2 with 11 seconds left when Hilmar missed on a 37-yard field goal attempt.
Strathmore scored on the first play of overtime, but the Yellowjackets responded to tie again at 45-45 and force overtime No. 2.
Hilmar scored first, then forced the Spartans into a fourth down at the 7-yard line. Time for reprieve No. 3.
Nick Salas, Strathmore’s 6-foot-6 quarterback, scored a touchdown and Garcia scored another 2-point conversion with the winning points.