When a sloppy field and an inspired Beverly Hills defense conspired to slow down Santa Monica High tailback Glyn Milburn, the Vikings turned to an unlikely source for offense.
Santa Monica was losing, 12-0, in Friday night's battle for first place in the Ocean League when quarterback Steve Macko completed four consecutive passes to get his team into the end zone and onto the scoreboard at 12-7.
Milburn and Santa Monica's offensive line took over from there, battering Beverly Hills for a 21-12 win before 5,500 spectators at Santa Monica College.
Milburn, held to 61 yards in the first half, ran over and around the Normans to finish with 28 carries for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
"We wore them down in the second half," said Milburn, who has now rushed for 1,982 yards in eight games. "That's what we look forward to. It's fun then."
The victory kept Santa Monica unbeaten at 8-0. The Vikings--the No. 2 team in the Southern Conference poll and No. 6 in The Times' Southern Section rankings--will play a tough Hawthorne team next week.
Beverly Hills fell to 7-2 despite the play of senior tailback and linebacker Willie Crawford. Crawford, who has run in Milburn's shadow for most of the season, carried 19 times for 118 yards. It was primarily his play that pushed the Normans to an early lead.
But it wasn't enough.
Despite Milburn's impressive statistics, it might have been Macko's passing outburst at the end of the first half that turned the game, said Santa Monica Coach Tebb Kusserow.
"That was a tremendous impetus," Kusserow said of the touchdown that made the score 12-7. "If we come in down 12-0, it's a completely different perspective."
Macko ended up completing 6 of 6 passes for 76 yards.
Both teams scored in surprising fashion during the first half.
Leading 6-0 after an early touchdown run by Crawford, Beverly Hills appeared content to grind it out on a muddy field. Four consecutive runs up the middle gained 29 yards.
Then, with the Viking defense bunched up close to stop the run, wide reciever Monroe Gorden sprinted past the secondary and caught a 68-yard touchdown pass from Jason Goldberg. The Normans led 12-0.
Meanwhile, Milburn couldn't seem to find his footing. He opened the game with a 40-yard kick return, but was limited to short gains after that.
With four minutes left in the half, Macko came on strong. There was just 1:33 on the clock when he hit tight end Steve Blinn for a 14-yard touchdown.