The Pacifica High School football team got a lot of exercise at Millikan Friday but departed with little to show for it.
Its efforts became an exercise in futility after Millikan receiver Ray Jones made a spectacular catch in the end zone with 1:08 to play to steal a victory from Pacifica (1-1). A kick by quarterback Bob Crane gave the Rams a 7-3 victory in their first game this season.
Anyone who hoped to witness thrilling offense Friday was at the wrong stadium. The defenses were so dominant that first downs were few.
Pacifica's defense, which recorded a school-record six shutouts last season and allowed the fewest points, 31, of any Southern Conference team in Orange County, was impressive.
Linebacker Tim Rife played a wonderful game, recovering two fumbles and intercepting a pass to hasten the Ram offense off the field.
But his own offense, which he joined at fullback in the absence of injured fullback Chris Campos, was ineffective. The Mariners made only two first downs in the first half, each coming on a 34-yard runs by Rife and tailback Ray Willis.
The Mariners finished the first half with 81 yards rushing to the similarly stymied Rams' 75.
The only scoring until the final minute came on the first play of the second quarter. Rife's run had moved the Mariners to the Ram 17, where the drive stalled as Willis was halted for no gain and receivers dropped two passes by quarterback Brent Johnson (4 of 16 for 19 yards).
So Pacifica settled for a 34-yard field goal by sophomore Derek Muhoney. And it looked like those three points might stand up for the victory.
But the Rams snapped out of their lethargy in the last 3:09 of the game. Crane, who had only completed 1 pass for 6 yards and thrown an interception, connected 3 times with Jones for completions of 6, 21 and 22 yards to move to the Mariner 44. Chris King caught another nine-yard pass at the 36.
Crane, a 6-4, 202-pound junior, then tried a bold and desperate move, throwing straight into the end zone, where King and Jones were surrounded by Mariner defenders Ken Greene, Cory Mathis and Willis. All five turned around and reached for the ball, but Jones came up with it.
Jones also played an excellent defensive game, twice tipping passes away from Mariner receivers. But his last catch was the crushing contribution.