The Spartans lost a shootout to the Blue Raiders as they ended their season with a 37-27 loss
CARUTHERS – Strathmore fell just one game shy of a Valley Championship appearance in their first season since moving up to Division V. It was a high scoring battle between the two offenses as the game came down to who had the ball last with enough time to score. That team wound up being the Blue Raiders as they scored their final touchdown with about a minute remaining in the game.
The Spartans got on the board first after a long drive resulting in seven points. Trace Pugh ran in the score from 8 yards out for the first touchdown of the game. Caruthers scored almost immediately upon getting the ball back on a 24-yard run. The game was tied after the first quarter. Strathmore’s offense stalled on their next possession which resulted in a touchdown for the Blue Raiders. At that point Spartan head coach Jeromy Blackwell realized that his defense wouldn’t be able to stop their opponent, so he started taking more risks on offense. His team dialed up a fake punt on fourth down but they couldn’t convert. That led to the third touchdown of the half for Caruthers. Strathmore had a chance to score as the half was ending, but they had another drive stall out, this time in the red zone. Blackwell deemed those missed opportunities to score to be the difference in the game as his team trailed 21-7 at half time.
After some adjustments, the Spartans were finally able to get a defensive stop on the first drive of the third quarter. They got the ball back and scored on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Pugh to Andre Bravo. They then recovered a muffed punt which resulted in seven more points. Pugh called his own number again for his second rushing score of the night. The game was tied at 21 heading into the final period. The Blue Raiders got the first touchdown of the fourth quarter to regain the lead. The Spartans jumped offsides on the PAT which led to Caruthers going for two and succeeding. They were up 29-21.
With about four minutes left the Spartans had a chance to tie the game after a rushing touchdown by Moreno. He ended the night with over 150 yards on the ground. They went for two to tie the score and were stuffed. They kicked an onside kick for the first time in nearly two years but didn’t recover. The Blue Raiders then iced the game with another touchdown and two-point conversion with a minute remaining.
“Our effort was valiant but it was the poor execution in the first half that caught up to us in the end,” Blackwell said.
The Spartans ended the season 11-2 and shared the East Sequoia league title with Woodlake.