SYLMAR — Canoga Park High gave Sylmar all it could handle in a Valley Pac-8 Conference finale Friday night, but the Spartans prevailed in overtime, 37-35, to win their eighth consecutive conference title.
Sylmar linebacker Joey La Porte knocked down a conversion pass attempt from quarterback Brian Hickman near the line of scrimmage in overtime to secure Sylmar's 53rd consecutive conference victory.
Tied, 29-29, after regulation, the tie-breaker rule was implemented, giving each team four plays starting at the opponent's 10-yard line.
Sylmar scored on its second play in overtime on a five-yard run by Donald Carpenter, who finished with 141 yards rushing in 26 carries. Carpenter ran for a two-point conversion to give the Spartans a 37-29 lead.
The Hunters, after two Sylmar pass-interference penalties and a sack, scored on third down on a nine-yard pass from Hickman to wide receiver Kevin Carlsen.
Canoga Park sent the game into overtime after an acrobatic catch by Kevin Carlsen in the back of the end zone. Carlsen, who had five catches for 86 yards and three touchdowns, got both feet down before falling out of bounds. Hickman's two-point conversion pass to tight end Michael Shoemaker tied the score, 29-29, with 1 minute 25 seconds to play.
Canoga Park (6-4, 5-2 in conference) left little doubt that it could compete in the City Section 4-A Division playoffs, which begin next week.
Sylmar Coach Jeff Engilman believes Canoga Park has the talent to compete at the highest level.
"Either that, or we're a 3-A team," Engilman said.
Sylmar (8-2, 7-0) sputtered offensively and trailed, 21-7, after three quarters. But the Spartans benefited from an onside kick and a Canoga Park fumble to score 22 points in less than 3 1/2 minutes in the fourth quarter.
Tight end Derrell Daniels caught his second touchdown on a short pass, and quarterback Chris Cervantes ran for a two-point conversion to give Sylmar its first lead of the game, 22-21, with 9:13 to play. Cervantes completed 18 of 26 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns.
After Sylmar recovered a fumble by Quantee Stansberry at the Canoga Park 17, Carpenter rushed three times before scoring on a six-yard run to help Sylmar take a 29-21 lead with 8:31 remaining.