Paso Robles High’s football team led 10-0 with just a few minutes remaining against St. Joseph on Friday.
But then the wheels came off, and the Knights mounted a last-ditch rally that ended in a 17-10 double-overtime victory.
In front of a packed house Friday in Paso Robles, the only cheering at the end of a homecoming heartbreaker could be heard from the visiting team’s sideline.
The Bearcats (5-2, 2-1 PAC 7) have made a killing this season cashing in on tough running and solid blocking up front.
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That worked in the first half for Paso Robles and Nathaniel Harris, who began the game with 987 yards rushing this season. Harris punched in a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:17 left in the first quarter.
Harris finished with 114 yards rushing on 35 carries and was the go-to option for Paso Robles on many first and second downs.
But the Bearcats’ smash-mouth strategy stalled in the second half, and St. Joseph was able to hold them to a 21-yard Bryce Pasky field goal in the fourth quarter.
That’s when St. Joseph quarterback Curry Parham, who has attracted some attention from mid-major college programs, kicked it into clutch mode.
Parham led the Knights (5-2, 2-2) on a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Becerra with 2:17 remaining in regulation.
With the Bearcats still up 10-7, St. Joseph got the ball back again with an onside kick and advanced the ball deep into Paso Robles territory. With 26 seconds remaining, St. Joseph’s Jon Chartier knocked in a fortunate field goal after Parham handled a bounced snap.
Then, in the second overtime, Mateo Becerra punched in the game winner on a short run after both sides failed to score in the first overtime. St. Joseph’s Chris Barganier intercepted Gunnar Griffin’s pass on the Bearcats’ final possession to seal the win.
A raucous crowd of Paso Robles fans was eerily silent as the St. Joseph faithful celebrated.
“We battled,” Paso Robles coach Rich Schimke said. “Our guys played hard. I’m proud of the whole team.”
Harris said the offense “wasn’t clicking” like it normally does, and the Bearcats just missed some opportunities for big plays, including a red-zone tackle on him that could have put the Bearcats up 14-0 in the fourth.
“They had some shoelace tackles on me,” Harris said. “We played as hard as we could. We’re going to go back to work in practice this week.”
Parham said he didn’t even know an onside kick was going to be called at 2:17 in regulation. When the Knights got the ball back, that opened the door for the final score that sent it into overtime.
“That was a big play,” Parham said. “It was an unbelievable game. This is what we needed to get back on track for our season. We had our best week in practice and really stepped it up.”