Eric Leon caught a touchdown pass, registered a pair of sacks and recovered a fumble as the Marauders ended the state’s longest losing streak, a 26-game skid that dated back to a 13-12 victory over Southwestern nearly three years ago.
Leon’s touchdown came on an improvised play after a bad snap doomed what would have been a 40-yard field goal attempt by Java Navarro. The ball ended up in Navarro’s hands, and the 5-9 freshman lofted a pass towards the end zone as the West LA rushers chased him. The perfectly-thrown pass came down in the corner of the end zone in the hands of Leon for the touchdown. Then Navarro stayed on the field and kicked the extra point, giving AVC a 9-0 lead with 4:08 left in the first quarter, equaling the Marauders’ highest-scoring total of any game in the 2006 season.
AVC had taken a 2-0 lead earlier in the quarter as a result of another bad snap, this one on a punt attempt by West LA. After AVC's Marcus Wyre, Jr. threw West LA's Andre Harris for a 3-yard loss on third down, the Oilers lined up to punt. But the snap sailed high over punter Dontrail Cail's head, finally coming to rest in the West LA end zone. Rather than risk an AVC recovery and touchdown, Cail kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone, conceding the safety and giving AVC a 2-0 lead with 8:32 left in the quarter.
On the ensuing free kick, AVC's Dennis Palmer returned the ball 21 yards to the West LA 36. The Marauders gained one first down when Dominic Blood gained 5 yards on a 4th-and-1 play, but the drive stalled three plays later at the West LA 22. That brought the field goal unit onto the field, though the Marauders ended up with the touchdown after Navarro’s improvised pass. That was also AVC’s first touchdown pass in over a year; none of AVC's three passers had one last year.
Antelope Valley extended its lead late in the first half when Rodney Dorsette threw his first touchdown pass for the Marauders, a 21-yard toss to freshman receiver Terrance Shepard. That capped an 8-play, 47-yard drive. On the conversion, AVC lined up in the swinging gate formation, but rather than have everyone shift over and kick the point as usual, the Marauders snapped the ball to backup quarterback Ricardo Johnson, who tossed a short pass to Shepard in the back of the end zone for the 2-point conversion that made it 17-0.
West LA got its only touchdown of the day when safety Brandon Roundtree stepped in front of a receiver and picked off a Dorsette pass midway through the third quarter and then raced 43 yards for the score. That came as a bit of redemption for Roundtree, who moments earlier had been victimized by an AVC punt that hit him on the back of the foot as he raced downfield on the return. Jack Maeshiro had recovered the loose ball for AVC, but on the very next play Roundtree not only got the ball back but got his team onto the scoreboard.
On the conversion, AVC's Sam Murphy deflected a wobbly kick, keeping the score 17-6. That ended up being the final score, though West LA drove into AVC territory twice in the final quarter only to come away empty after being turned back by the Marauder defense. The Oilers reached the AVC 27 with just under 10 minutes left, but a sack by Leon pushed them back to the 38 and an incomplete pass on fourth down turned the ball back to AVC. Then the Oilers drove to the Marauder 21 with under 4 minutes remaining, but four incomplete passes later the Marauders got the ball back.
Moments later, Dorsette got the chance to do something no AVC quarterback had been able to do in nearly three years: take a knee to run out the clock and begin the victory celebration. Marauder players and coaches celebrated on the field and the large contingent of red-clad AVC supporters who escaped the crazy weather in the Antelope Valley to make the journey to the west side relaxed in the stands with a combination of joy at the victory and relief that the losing streak was finally over.
For AVC, Leon was the standout on defense, but he had plenty of help from a strong defensive front, anchored by defensive end Taylor Martin. Blood had a strong game rushing the ball, finishing with a game-high 82 yards on 19 carries. Dorsette finished 5 of 17 passing for 47 yards, but threw a touchdown pass. And Navarro averaged just 27.3 yards on 6 punts, but his squib-type kicks kept West LA from any punt returns, save the inadvertent “muff” by Roundtree when the ball hit him downfield. The Marauder defense did the rest, holding West LA to a minus-22 yards rushing and just 140 yards of total offense on the day.
For West LA, the loss is the Oilers' 16th in a row, including a pair of forfeits last year. And it was a rough day for the offense, which failed to score a point. 6-5 freshman Matthew Johnson completed 9 of 23 passes for 117 yards while playing most of the first three quarter, and fellow freshman Joel Childress was 7 of 17 for 45 yards in relief. Harris gained 37 yards on 11 rushes. Ryan Henry had 6 catches for 65 yards while Sam Rodgers had 5 catches for 55 yards. Freshman defensive end Kyle Augustin led the defense with 1.5 quarterback sacks and a visible presence on the defense all afternoon.
Antelope Valley Marauders 17
West Los Angeles Oilers 6
Saturday, September 1, 2007 - 1 pm - West LA College - Culver City
AVC - Safety - punter Cail kicked ball out of end zone 8:32 (2-0)
AVC - Leon 22 yd pass from Navarro (Navarro kick) 4:08 (9-0)
AVC - Shepard 21 yd pass from Dorsette (Shepard pass from R.Johnson) 3:52 (17-0)
WLAC - Roundtree 43 yd interception return (kick blocked) 8:49 (17-6)
First Downs: West LA 12 (2 rush, 8 pass, 2 penalty), Antelope Valley 15 (10 rush, 4 pass, 1 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: West LA 22-(-22), Antelope Valley 51-148
Passing Yds: West LA 162, Antelope Valley 69
Comp-Att-Int: West LA 16-40-162, Antelope Valley 6-18-1
Return Yds: West LA 104, Antelope Valley 42
Sacks-Yds: West LA 4-24, Antelope Valley 2-18
Fumbles-Lost: West LA 8-3, Antelope Valley 4-1
Penalties-Yds: West LA 7-49, Antelope Valley 5-42
Time of Possession: West LA 22:32, Antelope Valley 37:28
Rushing: West LA 5-Harris 11-37, 2-Bragg 2-1, 7-Matthew Johnson 6-(-11), 12-Childress 2-(-21), team 1-(-28); Antelope Valley 7-Blood 19-82, 26-Wilson 9-46, 5-Powell 5-24, 35-Navarro 1-6,
8-Palmer 2-1, 25-Tatum 3-0; 6-Dorsette 11-(-9)
Passing: West LA 7-Matthew Johnson 9-23-0-117; 12-Childress 7-17-0-45;
Antelope Valley 6-Dorsette 5-17-1-47, 1 TD; 35-Navarro 1-1-0-22, 1 TD
Receiving: West LA 3-Henry 6-65, 80-Rodgers 5-55, 81-Bell 2-20, 85-Tolbert 1-9, 5-Harris 1-8,
84-Hanley 1-5; Antelope Valley 2-Shepard 2-37, 40-Leon 1-22, 85-Culver 1-10, 26-Wilson 1-0,
Interceptions-Ret Yds: West LA 27-Roundtree 1-43; Antelope Valley none
Fumble Recoveries: West LA 11-Owens; Antelope Valley 13-Maeshiro, 40-Leon, 54-Ortiz
Sacks: West LA 17-Augustin 1-1/2, 9-Hollins, 41-Opanubi, 10-Crawford 1/2;
Antelope Valley 40-Leon 2
Punters: West LA 21-Cail 6-29.7 avg; Antelope Valley 35-Navarro 6-27.3 avg
Kick Returns: West LA 25-B.Johnson 1-22, 3-Henry 1-20, 5-Harris 1-19;
Antelope Valley 28-Palmer 1-21
Punt Returns: West LA team 1-0; Antelope Valley 11-Russ 2-21
Notes: Season opener for both teams. The Streak is OVER!!! AVC ends a 26-game losing streak dating back to week 4 of 2003 (a 13-12 win over Southwestern). But West LA continues its streak with its 16th straight loss, including a couple of forfeits. AVC's safety came after a bad punt snap. AVC's 1st TD came after a bad snap on attempted field goal; Navarro got the ball and tossed it to Leon for the touchdown instead. AVC’s 2-point conversion came on a trick play after the Marauders lined up in the swinging gate formation. Navarro’s run was a fake punt play in the 2nd quarter; he was stopped one yard short of the first down. Roundtree returned the INT for the TD one play after an AVC punt hit him in the back of the leg and AVC's Maeshiro recovered. Johnson started at QB for West LA; Childress played a couple of plays after Johnson got hit hard by 90-Taylor Martin in the 2nd quarter and took over for good in the fourth quarter.