MOORPARK — El Camino College was supposed to blow away Moorpark with its explosive offense Saturday afternoon in the Western State Bowl at Griffin Stadium.
But it was the Raiders' defense that was most powerful in their 30-19 victory over El Camino, which was ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season, but entered the game at No. 15.
"They haven't faced a defense as quick as ours all season," Moorpark Coach Jim Bittner said. "It sure made all the difference today."
Moorpark's defense set the tone from the start. The Raiders, ranked No. 20 in the state, prevented the Warriors from scoring on their first possession by rejecting four tries from inside the six-yard line.
El Camino (7-4) struggled on practically every drive after that.
"I thought we moved the ball all day; we just couldn't get it in the end zone," El Camino Coach John Featherstone said. "We just couldn't get points out of our drives."
Moorpark (8-3) led, 14-10, at the half and relinquished the lead only briefly. It happened when El Camino was ahead, 17-14, after scoring on a five-play, 71-yard drive that was capped by a 34-yard pass from Frank Ramirez to Anrois Coleman. Ramirez completed 21 of 41 passes for 244 yards.
Moorpark regained the lead with 6 minutes 26 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Gary Clemons dashed 74 yards into the end zone. The sophomore running back rushed for 148 yards in 14 carries.
"We just played our hearts out," Clemons said. "All week everyone has been saying that El Camino plays in a tougher conference and that our conference is not as tough, but today we were tough."
Tim Wolleck hit a 30-yard field goal to give Moorpark a 24-17 lead with 3:56 left to play. The Warriors tackled Moorpark punter Robert Ralston in the end zone for a safety with 19 seconds remaining to make it 24-19.
Moorpark responded with a touchdown as time expired. With just seconds left to play, Tim Kirksey intercepted a Ramirez pass and later pitched it to Rommel Butler, who scored.
Raider quarterback Taj Lewis completed only three of 12 passes for 71 yards and rushed for two touchdowns. He came out of the game early in the second half after suffering an ankle injury but returned in the fourth quarter.
"This is by far the best we've played all year," Bittner said. "We picked a good time to do it."