How many times can you say you’ve seen a high school football game where the teams scored a combined 140 points?
And every point was critical.
That was the total when Orcutt Academy defeated Cate 72-68 in a Mt. Pinos League opener last Friday night at Santa Maria High School.
This is one of the reasons I love 8-man football.
Each team scored 10 touchdowns.
Cate ran off 72 offensive plays — 55 runs and 17 passes — while putting up 565 yards of total offense.
Orcutt Academy got off only 55 plays — 43 runs and 12 passes — while amassing 463 yards of total offense.
That's 1,028 total yards.
The Spartans also had a 79-yard Donovan Miller kickoff return for a touchdown. Keep in mind that 8-man plays on an 80-yard field.
It was an amazing offensive show.
But it took one fantastic defensive play by Orcutt’s Jared Sutton to seal the Spartans’ first-ever victory over their biggest rival.
We regularly see teams put up 70 or more points — Lompoc put up 72 in a 72-14 win over San Marcos and Cabrillo pounded Templeton 71-27 in two examples from games earlier this season.
But those games were blowouts.
The winners could have easily scored more but the head coaches, Lompoc’s Andrew Jones and Cabrillo’s AJ Pateras, took their feet off the gas once the games were well in hand.
But in the case of Orcutt Academy, they needed every one of those 72 points to win.
In a seesaw battle that had fans from both schools on the edge of their seats, Orcutt was losing 68-64 when Cate scored its 10th touchdown with 1:28 left in the game.
Not much time but, then again, it was almost too much time.
Orcutt’s Donovan Miller hauled in the kickoff at full speed at his own five and blasted up the middle to the 32.
Orcutt quarterback Darin Miller then ran around the left end and down the sideline for a 13-yard gain before getting knocked out of bounds at Cate’s 35 with 1:16 on the clock.
The Spartans’ Jadin Davis then found a hole on the right side, blew up the middle for 20 to set up a first-and-10 at the Cate 16 with 1:04 left in the fourth.
After an incomplete pass, with 57.2 seconds remaining in the game, Darin Miller started to run left, drew in the defense then pitched to Sutton who hit the sideline, darted back to his right and battled three Cate tacklers, carrying all of them into the end zone for a 70-68 lead.
Eddie Lundberg ran in the two-point conversion and Orcutt Academy led 72-68 with 49.4 seconds on the clock.
And that is why it was too much time.
Cate was able to get off five plays before the clock ran out.
The Rams had a first down at the Spartans 38 with exactly 3-seconds on the clock when their quarterback, Jack Deardorff, went back to pass.
Deardorff was chased all around the backfield but wasn’t caught. With the Orcutt Academy fans holding their collective breaths, he finally put up a Hail Mary into the end zone.
Sutton was back deep, kept his eye on the ball and, at the last second, jumped in front of the receiver to knock the Hail Mary pass down.
Orcutt’s fans exploded.
The Orcutt Academy Spartans got the finally monkey off their back.
“Monkey — it was a 2,000 pound gorilla,” said a jubilant Orcutt Academy head coach Doug May after his Spartans’ win.
The win ran Orcutt Academy’s record to 5-1. The Spartans are the No. 2 ranked team in the CIF Southern Section’s 8-man Division 1.
Their only loss was to top ranked Faith Baptist two weeks ago.
After the victory over Cate, a re-match against Faith Baptist in the Division 1 championship game is a distinct possibility.
So congratulations go out to Orcutt Academy.
That’s how you fight down to the final buzzer.