Instead, backup QB Kyle Blum methodically drove his team 68 yards down the field to set up a winning 25-yard field goal by Felipe Macias with only 4 seconds left in the game. Blum is no ordinary backup QB. He has a very strong arm, and with a talented receiving corp including Tony Washington and Conrad Meadows (PHOTO; CREDIT: TIM MURPHY), he was able to make big plays to keep the Raiders within striking distance the whole game. Perhaps even more surprising was the running attack in the late stages of the game for Moorpark. Going into the game, many were of the opinion that the big backfield of 230-pound Andre Cirino and 215-pound Andre Hirsch might eventually wear the Raiders down. Instead, it was Moorpark who seemed to have more gas at the end of the contest, along with a 4th quarter tail wind that gave them the confidence to pull out an important WSC North contest with championship and playoff implications. A win by Hancock over Bakersfield next week, coupled with a Raider win, would throw the conference into a three way tie for the Championship, which would give playoff voters a nightmare scenario.
Hancock wasted little time showing it knew how to move the pigskin. After two straight first downs on three plays, Bulldog QB Jonathon Dally hit Shaun Stewart over the middle for a 37-yard gain. The Raiders defense tightened up in the red zone, forcing a field goal of 39 yards by Sal Gutierrez to give Hancock an early 3-0 lead.
The Raiders quickly struck back when Tony Washington got behind defenders on a post pattern and took a perfectly thrown Blum pass in stride to ramble 85 yards for the score and a 7-3 lead. Hancock responded by mixing up runs and on a third down and 12, Dally hit Dominic Catayas who fought for a first down to keep the drive alive at the Moorpark 24-yard line. Shaun Stewart ripped off a 10 yard run, and Cirino finished the job with a 2 yard plunge to give the 'Dogs the lead back at 10-7.
Instead of relying strictly on the talents of Washington and Meadows, the Raiders effectively ran the ball on their next possession with Larry Looney and Dan Mosier. Daniel Wolverton was left uncovered and picked up a first down that could easily have gone for 20 more yards had he not stumbled after the reception. Macias just missed a 44 yard field goal that would have tied the game.
The next Hancock drive was cut short by an interception by Wesley Beavers. Hancock forced a punt, but the fair catch was muffed by the returner and pounced on by Manny Garcia at the Bulldog 10-yard line. Meadows then caught a fade pass just in bounds in the corner of the end zone to give the see saw lead back to the Raiders at 14-10. The Dogs responded quickly when Dally optioned to Cirino just as he was going down, and the big RB tightroped the sidelines on his way to an 80 yard touchdown to make the score 17-14.
Meadows got past defenders again, but had to adjust to make the grab at the 15-yard line, and struggled through a couple of defenders to the 12. Macias tied it up at 17-17 going into the half.
Lorenzo Goode got Hancock rolling with a nice slashing run of 26 yards out to the 46-yard line. Goode, who is a little quicker than his backfield cohorts, was being used a little more extensively in this drive. But he muffed a pitch for a loss, and Gutierrez ended up hitting a 30-yard field goal to give them a 20-17 lead.
Meadows looked like a pinball on a little bubble screen as he went over and around defenders, leaving a trail of missed tackles behind him out to midfield. Moorpark stalled there, but pinned the Bulldogs back to their own 7 after a penalty. Dally got them out of the hole when he pulled off a nice play action pass, and hit his big 260-pound TE Kyle Pollock, who showed some nice footwork for a big guy and picked up 38 yards. On a fourth and a yard to go at the Raider 40, Cirino bulled his way through the line for a first down to keep the drive alive.
Moorpark tightened up, but were guilty of a roughing the punter to bail the Dogs out towards the end of the third.
In fact, Hancock had to call time out when they were huddled up near the sideline thinking it was the end of the third quarter. The quarter had not ended due to the penalty even though time had expired.
Dally play actioned again, this time finding fullback Andrew Hirsch for a first down at the Raider 9-yard line. From there Dally faked another hand off and kept around the right side to make it 27-17.
Hancock defenders were guilty of holding Meadows on a fly pattern to keep a drive going. The Raiders went right back to the well with the same play, and this time the 5'9 Meadows out-jumped the D Backs for a first down at the Dog 23 yard line. Blum then hit Shawn Trowbridge in the end zone to tighten the game up at 27-24.
The Raider defense started clamping down. I became a little confused when a penalty was called on the Dogs on third and long. The refs let the play continue, but they called illegal procedure, and the pass was not completed. The Raiders refused the penalty forcing the Dogs to punt. But if the penalty was illegal procedure, shouldn't the play be stopped dead, and 5 yards marked off and you repeat 3rd down?
Blum was just about to be sacked by three Hancock defenders, but miraculously escaped and found Daniel Wollverton with a strike on the run to the Dog 37 yard line. Mosier ran right up the gut for a 13-yard pick up to the 24. On the next play, LB Sam Guilliume had an interception bounce high off of his hands that could have ended the threat. William Roundtree made a very nice stop on another screen to Meadows, as he cut the elusive WR down before he could get his wheels churning. That set up a 42-yard tying field goal by Macias, and once again we had a new game, knotted at 27 all.
Dally was rallying his troops again, but a dropped pass ended a game winning drive and the Dogs were forced to punt. That set up the Blum heroics, as he calmly led his team down for the winning field goal by Macias with only 4 seconds remaining in the game. The Raiders kept hope alive with a tough 27-24 victory.
A tremendous effort by Coach Bittner's Raiders. They kept fighting the fight to the end and it paid off. Blum had a terrific game, throwing for 312 yards and three touchdowns. RBs Looney, Mosier and Wolverton kept the pressure off of him with some hard running, and Meadows could not be contained, catching 6 balls for 150 yards. The defense led by tackling machine Richard Martinez tightened up when they had to, and Laydell Shelton played the pass very well. An expected at home win against Pierce next week will in all likelyhood give the Raiders at least an at large playoff berth pending the outcome of the Hancock/Bakersfield contest. Following the game, the Raiders dog piled Macias for his game winning kick. Coach Bittner called attention to Macias in the post game huddle, giving him props and also telling his minions that "We proved that we are still one of the top teams around".
Kris Dutra's team played a great game and have nothing to be ashamed of. Their running attack is very good with many weapons including Dally's own running skills off the option. He ended up with 165 yards passing and about 60 running. Cirino gained 118 yards on only 15 carries. They haven't had to throw much because of their success on the ground, but they do have an effective play action passing game. A win against Bakersfield next week will give them a share of the title and a headache for the pollsters. After BC waxed the Raiders last week, it would be easy for Renegade fans to think next week will be a shoe in victory. But Bakersfield fans know that in any season you can throw out the records when they travel to Santa Maria. The Dogs always give BC a tussle even in down years, and this isn't a down year for the Bulldogs. Saddleback was able to run on them, and Hancock is one of the premiere running attacks around. The real question for the Dogs is, will they be able to control the clock and keep the ball away from BC's speed. As the Bulldogs and the Raiders shook hands, the chant was "beat Bakersfield". Stay tuned.
Hancock - Gutierrez - 22-yard field goal - 7:04 - 3-0
Moorpark - Blum to Washington - 85-yard pass - 6:26 - 7-3
Hancock - Cirino - 2-yard run - 14:15 - 10-
Moorpark - Blum to Meadows - 10 yd pass - 5:32 - 14-10
Hancock - Cirino - 80-yard run - 4:55 - 17-14
Moorpark - Macias - 26-yard field goal - 2:23 - 17-17
Hancock - Gutierrez - 30-yard field goal - 8:08 - 20-17
Hancock - Dally - 9-yard keeper - 14:31 - 27-17
Moorpark - Blum to Trowbridge - 9-yard pass - 13:35 - 24-27
Moorpark - Macias - 42-yard field goal - 9:56 - 27-27
Moorpark - Macias - 25-yard field goal - :04 - 30 - 27