High school football games usually take at least two hours to play. But during Friday night's contest between Desert Hot Springs (Calif.) High School and Big Bear (Calif.) High School it took the two schools nearly four hours and eight overtimes before Big Bear prevailed, 56-50.
The game ended up breaking the California High School record for overtimes, besting a 1991 game between Perris and Palm Springs that went seven OTs. It also set the record for longest football game in state history.
"It was just a phenomenal game, probably the best football game I've ever been involved in," Big Bear High coach Dave Griffiths told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm not sure how much longer the teams could have gone. After eight overtimes, the kids were worn out and the coaches too."
At one point during the contest it looked like there was no way the two teams were headed to overtime. As the San Bernardino County Sun noted, it took a furious rally by Big Bear to turn the game from a blowout into one of the greatest finishes in state history.
After being down 15 points in the third, Big Bear scored 22 unanswered points to take the lead. With the game in the balance and Desert Hot Springs looking at a shocking defeat, the school made one final push to tie the game.
Griffiths felt his team had a good chance to put it away as a punt was about to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory, but Christian Guzman returned the punt to set up a game-tying drive. Desert Hot Springs tied it 22-22 with a touchdown in the final minutes before Big Bear missed a 47-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds that would have won the game.
While the finish of regulation was incredible, overtime produced a couple of gems that made both coaches rub their eyes in disbelief. The Desert Sun said the best moment of the game came with Desert Hot Springs trailing Big Bear 43-36 and facing third-and-36.
Running a go route, [Christian] Guzman expected quarterback Nolan Hayes to throw the ball to his outside shoulder. But the 6-3, 200-pound receiver was forced to adjust as the pass approached his inside shoulder. He jumped underneath the Big Bear defensive back, who was playing textbook coverage, to catch the pass for a 35-yard gain.
"I've never played so much football in my life," Guzman told the Desert Sun. "My guys fought, my line fought, my QB was throwing dimes. It was amazing."
Amazing, indeed. There has to be some direct correlation between multiple overtime games and the month of October. Just last season, Nacogdoches (Tex.) High School and Jacksonville (Tex.) High School went an eye-popping 12 OTs to set the national record in an 84-81 game.