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Junior College Football Bowl Games

Sweet Revenge Goes Sour for Moorpark

Strawberry: Bobbled snap on punt gives Cerritos a safety and 16-15 decision.

December 08, 1996|MITCH POLIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORWALK — There were plenty of mistakes to go around for Moorpark College on Saturday night in the third annual Strawberry Bowl at Cerritos College.

But it was the last one, a safety with 5:47 left, that cost the Raiders the most in a 16-15 loss to Cerritos.

Moorpark (8-3) appeared on the verge of a come-from-behind victory until punter Tim Wolleck bobbled a low snap and was tackled in the end zone by Christian Jones.

The Raiders, trying to avenge a 55-9 loss to Cerritos in this game two years ago, had one more possession in the closing minutes, only to bog down with four penalties for 36 yards.

Heshimu Robertson of Cerritos sealed Moorpark's fate when he intercepted a pass by George Jones at the Raider 47-yard line with 25 seconds left.

"It was a heartbreaking loss," running back Dion Gaston said. "We just wanted it so bad. But, like Coach [Jim Bittner] said, we lost the game ourselves."

After struggling through most of the first half, the Raiders scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter to take a 15-14 lead.

They drove 76 yards in three plays at the start of the quarter, scoring on Gaston's 46-yard run up the middle.

But they missed a two-point conversion when reserve quarterback Steve Saum's pass fell incomplete.

After a Cerritos punt, Moorpark drove 62 yards to the two but settled for a 19-yard field goal by Wolleck to take the lead.

Little did they realize that those would be their final points.

"In the first half, we played bad, but Coach Bittner told us to come out and play Moorpark football," Gaston said. "We played better after that, but it just wasn't enough."

Moorpark finished with only 186 total yards. Jones completed nine of 14 passes for 132 yards with one interception.

The Raiders were hurt by mistakes in the first half. They lost two fumbles and the first led to a touchdown.

After Ivan McCrae fumbled at the Cerritos 40 early in the first quarter, the Falcons drove 60 yards for a score.

The bulk of the yardage came on a 40-yard touchdown pass play from Gary Thomas to wide receiver Jay Young that gave Cerritos (9-2) a 7-0 lead.

Moorpark's offense, which struggled through most of the half, finally awakened midway through the second quarter when the Raiders drove 61 yards in five plays for a touchdown.

The score came on a 26-yard run by McCrae, but Wolleck missed the extra point after a bad snap.

Cerritos extended it to 14-6 at halftime after they drove 80 yards in six plays late in the quarter, scoring on a 20-yard pass from Thomas to wide-open Brian Haywood.

The Raiders were held to 71 yards in the half.

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