Dana Griffin has been disappointed because injuries deprived him of a shot at his admittedly lofty goal of rushing for 3,000 yards this season for Moorpark College.
"Hey," Griffin said. "You have to shoot high, right?"
Griffin, a 6-1, 197-pound sophomore from Hueneme High, lowered a few raised eyebrows Saturday by rushing for a school-record 280 yards and scoring four touchdowns as Moorpark beat Santa Barbara, 42-28, in a Western State Conference game at Moorpark College.
"When you get into a game mode, you don't think about anything--it's just instinct," said Griffin, who had touchdown runs of 1, 72, 2 and 1 yards. "You're just running and looking around and there's no one there so you run for daylight."
Griffin, who carried 29 times, broke the Moorpark single-game rushing record set by Johnny Taylor in 1973. He also tied the school record for most points in a game (24) held by Steve Hoyt (1972).
For Griffin, it was much like last season's game against Santa Barbara, when he ran for 149 yards on nine carries, including an 86-yard touchdown. This season, however, Griffin had rushed for just 85 yards before Saturday because of a sprained ligament in his right foot suffered during a preseason scrimmage.
"We felt he'd be a big part of our team and I think he gained a lot of respect today," Moorpark Coach Jim Bittner said. "We're certainly going to give him the ball and if he gets going like he did today, we're going to give it to him and give it to him.
"We like to run the ball."
Do they ever.
Moorpark (5-1, 2-1), ranked ninth in the state and fifth in Southern California by the JC Athletic Bureau, rushed for 518 yards to break the school record of 395 set last season against Compton. Michael Daniels carried 15 times for 108 yards, Ernie Tautalatasi gained 48 yards and scored a touchdown, Larry Roberts gained 43 yards and scored a touchdown, Kenny Durr added 24 yards and quarterback Dan Nagelmann had 15.
Nagelmann attempted just 5 passes, completing 4 for 44 yards, and had 1 interception.
"We're a little thin at some positions and everyone runs against us," said Rick Cook, who is in his first year as coach at Santa Barbara. "They have a great scheme and they have the horses to do it.
"It's like going against Oklahoma. They're going to grind the clock with the run. We're going to grind it with the pass."
Santa Barbara quarterback Mark Whelan used eight different receivers to complete 23 of 48 attempts for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Vaqueros (1-5, 1-2) ran the ball just five times and looked nothing like the pushover their record indicates.
After spotting Moorpark a 14-0 lead on Griffin's first two scoring runs, the pass-happy Vaqueros matched Moorpark touchdown for touchdown--including a seven-yard scoring pass from reserve quarterback Greg Wright to wide receiver Paul Nicholson on a fake field-goal attempt.
"I told Rick after the game that I would transfer two offensive tackles over there if he would promise to get out of that offense," Bittner said of his conversation with the Santa Barbara coach. "That's a nightmare playing against that stuff."
The key moments of the game occurred during a two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter and followed Whelan's 20-yard touchdown pass to Chad Price with 14:05 left. At that point the Vaqueros had closed to within 35-28.
Moorpark began the next series at its own 22, and was still there three plays later after two running plays gained nothing and an incomplete Nagelmann pass. The Raiders then punted for only the second time.
Pat Strickland returned the punt 24 yards to the Moorpark 36 and the momentum was clearly with the Vaqueros, who had scored on three consecutive possessions.
But Whelan, who had opened the second half by completing eight of nine passes, came up empty on three attempts. The Moorpark defense, which hardly looked like the fifth best in the state, finally toughened and stopped a run by Chris Harris on a fake punt to give the Raiders the ball.
Nagelmann then engineered a 66-yard, 13-play drive that Roberts capped with a one-yard touchdown run with 5:36 remaining to seal the win.
Bittner said he didn't expect Santa Barbara to score more than two touchdowns. And though Santa Barbara did pretty much as it pleased through the air against his team, Bittner was pleased with the Raiders' play in the clutch.
"I told the defense, 'Hey, you can go away feeling disgusted and feel like you didn't do the job, but when our offense got stopped and they had a chance to score, you stopped them.' "