A wild overtime victory by Arroyo Grande High’s football team after a fourth-quarter surge by Paso Robles capped an uncharacteristically low-scoring contest between two high-scoring teams Friday night.
Arroyo Grande (7-2, 4-1 PAC 7) maintained its standing atop the league along with St. Joseph and San Luis Obispo with the 20-13 PAC 7 victory over Paso Robles (5-4, 2-3) at home.
Both teams had averaged more than 30 points per game, but they struggled to put together scoring drives throughout the matchup.
Paso Robles knotted the score 13-13 with 49 seconds left in regulation on a 3-yard touchdown run by the Bearcats’ Colton Madrigal.
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And they could have seized a one-point lead but mishandled the snap on the extra-point attempt thanks to a hard charge by the Eagles’ Elijah Holt.
That’s when Arroyo Grande quarterback Matt Willkomm took over, running for a 9-yard touchdown on the first possession of overtime for what turned out to be the game winner.
“With the game on the line, a great player did his thing,” Arroyo Grande coach Tom Goossen said. “He’s been great for us all season and this was another night when we went to him and he came through for us.”
Willkomm finished with 159 yards passing and two 14-yard touchdown completions to tight end Grant Alton. Willkomm ran for 84 yards, including his overtime touchdown.
“It was a little nerve-wracking for us,” Willkomm said. “The excitement from the fans on both sides was amazing. You gotta give it up to them. They played great. This was a big win.”
A wild first half included three missed field goals (two by Paso Robles and one by Arroyo Grande), an 80-yard touchdown reception by Paso Robles’ Bailey Gaither on a streak pattern, a 90-yard kickoff return by the Eagles’ Holt that was called back because of holding, a surprise no-huddle offense by Arroyo Grande to build a 13-7 lead, and a controversial timeout to close the action.
Just before the half, Arroyo Grande used a no-huddle attack to keep the Bearcats off guard, marching down the field on several first-down passes. Willkomm then connected with Alton on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:28 left in the half.
The Bearcats then powered back with a quick-paced offense of their own to set up a 35-yard field goal try by Bryce Pasky, who drilled the kick and his team ran off the field thinking it was 13-10 at halftime.
But Goossen had called a timeout just before the kick and after a long discussion with the officials, the timeout was allowed. Pasky’s next kick sailed left and the halftime score was 13-7 — a critical play in the final outcome.
The second half featured shut-down defense by both teams, including a jarring hit by Paso Robles on a pass over the middle to Alton that broke up a third-down play and gave the Bearcats the ball back with about four minutes left in the game.
The Bearcats engineered an 84-yard drive by calling run plays on every down, all but one of them to Madrigal, who scored on a 3-yard run.
Madrigal ran for 204 yards and a score, while Bearcats quarterback Garrett Nelson threw for 172 yards and a touchdown.
But the Bearcats’ extra point with 49 seconds left in the game was mishandled as Holt charged in and appeared ready to block the kick and the contest went into overtime.
After Willkomm’s overtime touchdown run, Paso Robles’ Jimmy Pacheco lost a fumble that Arroyo Grande recovered to end the game.
“Their coaching staff came very prepared to play us,” Goossen said. “Thankfully, we made enough big plays and did just enough to win. This game could have gone to either team.”