Gil Valencia, Camarillo High's All-Marmonte League receiver, didn't see much of the football on offense Friday night against Rio Mesa, and that's unusual. On defense he saw to it that he did.
Valencia's interception with 39 seconds left in the game preserved Camarillo's 33-27 victory at Camarillo, its first over the Spartans since 1984.
"Gil's a great receiver," Camarillo coach Carl Thompson said. "He timed that jump just right."
Valencia, who caught three passes for 51 yards, made a leaping interception of Rio Mesa quarterback John Gomez's pass on the Scorpions' 19-yard line. The acrobatic play was a fitting end to a physical game.
"Every time we play these guys they're always tough," Valencia said.
No one, however, was tougher than Camarillo's Bill Bell, who rushed for 170 yards on 25 carries and scored a touchdown. Bell spent most of the night taking pitches from quarterback Donald Dodson and swinging around both ends.
"Probably the difference was Bill Bell," Thompson said of his 6-1, 195-pound running back. "In fact, he is the difference. He's a great back."
When Dodson didn't pitch the ball, he gained yardage himself. He finished with 82 yards on nine carries, including a 23-yard romp around left end for the winning score with 1:35 left.
Rio Mesa (0-2) had taken the lead, 27-26, on a 31-yard touchdown run by John Crouse, playing in place of injured starter Geoff Freedman. Crouse finished with 87 yards and three touchdowns.
Rio Mesa scored twice in the second quarter, both on short runs by Crouse. The first, a six-yard burst over the left side, capped a 72-yard drive and erased a 3-0 Camarillo lead. Gomez completed three passes in the drive, two to Darrick Jones.
Perhaps the most important play of the drive was the Spartans' fifth, when Camarillo free safety Jim Hand, one of the Scorpions' top defensive players, was forced out of the game. He injured his right knee after an eight-yard run by Crouse.
Dodson completed all three of his passes in the Scorpions' second-quarter touchdown drive. Two of the completions, including the 25-yard scoring play with 6:27 remaining in the half, went to Valencia.
But again, Crouse answered, this time on defense, when he intercepted a wayward pass from Dodson on the Scorpions' 25-yard line and returned it 11 yards. Three plays later, Crouse ran into the end zone from the 2-yard line. The two-point conversion, a roll-out pass from Gomez to Crouse, gave the Spartans a 14-11 halftime lead.
Bell gained 82 yards in the first half, 36 on the final drive of the half, which ended with a missed 43-yard field goal attempt.
Camarillo (1-1) leads the series, 7-6.