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San Clemente comeback leaves Tesoro stunned
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA - With seven points through the game's first 44 1/2 minutes against Tesoro, it appeared as if No. 17 San Clemente's effort on Friday was a lost cause.
Instead, the Tritons exploded for 22 consecutive points in the final 3:19 to snap a four-game losing streak and defeat the No. 6 Titans, 29-21, in a South Coast League contest at Tesoro High.
Sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold, making his first start for the Tritons in place of injured starter Sean Donnelly, hit Christian Bailey for a 34-yard touchdown with 14 seconds left in the game to bring the Tritons within a point, 21-20.
San Clemente coach Jaime Ortiz elected to go for a two-point conversion, and Darnold found Ryan Alvarez with a pass to put the Tritons ahead, 22-21.
Kelsey Benoit picked off a Matt Adam pass and returned it for a touchdown with 4 seconds left to seal the victory for the Tritons (5-4, 1-2).
The loss likely is a big blow to the playoff hopes for Tesoro (6-3, 1-3), while the Tritons hope the victory will help their chances of getting an at-large spot in the Pac-5 Division.
"It came down to the kids believing," Ortiz said. "We had a bye week last week and an opportunity to prepare for Tesoro. And we knew if we beat Tesoro, we may still have an opportunity to be in the playoffs."
This marked the fifth time in a row San Clemente has knocked off Tesoro.
San Clemente's Bret Miller broke the CIF-SS record for consecutive successful extra-point kicks. Miller made three extra points, giving him 107 in a row. The previous record was 104, set last year by former Santa Margarita kicker John McGrory.