MELBOURNE, Fla. —

When Melbourne Central Catholic trailed by 21 points early in the second quarter of a state quarterfinal matchup, players were reminded that there was still a lot of football left to play.

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Turns out, there was more than anyone envisioned.

It took a Florida state-record nine overtimes, but the Hustlers beat Clearwater Central Catholic 69-62 on Friday night — after the teams combined for a staggering 89 points after regulation.

The win sent the Hustlers into this weekend’s state Class 3A semifinals.

“I’m most excited for our kids and our coaches, to be able to experience this,” Melbourne Central Catholic coach Stacy Sizemore said Sunday. “We have about six or seven seniors that play and the rest are sophomores and juniors.”

Joaquin Collazo’s touchdown run in the fourth quarter pulled Melbourne Central Catholic into a 21-21 tie.

Little did anyone know, the teams were just getting started.

Both teams stopped the other in the first and fifth overtimes. In the eighth overtime, Clearwater Central Catholic reached the end zone but missed the extra point. And when Melbourne Central Catholic answered with a touchdown, the Hustlers had a chance to win right there — only to see their own point-after try get blocked, extending the game a little more. There’s no rule in Florida mandating that teams try a 2-point conversion after a certain number of overtimes.

“We even threw two picks in overtime,” Sizemore said.

The Hustlers overcame it all, scoring again in the ninth overtime when Collazo rushed in for the third time. On the ensuing Clearwater Central Catholic possession, the Hustlers got a fourth-down stop at the 1 to — finally — end the game. Sizemore didn’t even know what time the game ended, figuring it was somewhere around 11:30 p.m.

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