Several flags and turnovers left Valley football unable to build offensive momentum in the second half, resulting in a 21-20 loss to Moorpark College.
By Edward Segal, Staff Writer
Flags rained on Valley’s parade as the Monarchs built a 12-point lead in the first half, only to blow it with the Raiders holding them scoreless in the second half.
Both Valley football (2-6, 1-2 SCFA) and Moorpark College (3-4, 2-0 SCFA) were playing to gain a stronghold on the conference, and the Monarchs looked ready for the challenge to start the game, scoring on a fake field goal pass from sophomore quarterback Isaiah Johnson to sophomore wide receiver Dallas Martin. The Raiders’ stifling defense, however, gave the Monarchs little room to breathe, scoring off of three Valley turnovers.
“We have to take care of what we can control,” coach Lester Towns told his team before the game, and with the amount of turnovers and penalties the Monarchs conceded, those little things let the team down on Saturday night.
All but one score the Raiders put on the board was off a Monarch turnover, namely a safety, a fumble in the endzone, and an interception in the backfield. Despite four lost fumbles, four thrown interceptions and 17 penalties resulting in 209 yards gained for the Raiders, the Monarchs were able to keep the game close until the final minute.
Moorpark’s offense wasn’t much better with one lost fumble, three thrown interceptions and 14 penalties resulting in 150 yards gained for Valley, but their defense capitalized on opportunities more efficiently than the hosts.
After the Raiders took the lead 8-7 following a safety and a fumble recovered by freshman defensive back Devin Harper, the Monarchs responded, scoring on two plays from Johnson. The sophomore scored a 12-yard rushing touchdown and two possessions later a 42-yard touchdown pass to take the lead 20-8.
The tables turned when freshman linebacker Robert Cosby intercepted a pass at the Valley 3-yard-line returning the ball for a touchdown, flipping the momentum to the Raiders.
Despite barely seeing the Raiders’ half of the field during the third quarter and being one touchdown away from losing the lead, the Monarchs held their own for most of the fourth quarter.
On Valley’s first defensive stint in the fourth quarter, the team managed to run the clock down to 9:41 left, forcing a punt after back-to-back delay of the game penalties which resulted in the Raiders losing 10 yards.
The Monarchs looked to be on the brink of blowing the game wide open when sophomore wide receiver Cameron Lewis caught a 29-yard pass from Johnson at the Moorpark 45-yard line, but three plays later, Harper intercepted another one of Johnson’s passes at the Moorpark 18-yard line.
With 6:24 left, Raiders quarterback Trae Johnson took over, throwing five passes, one of which being a 25-yard touchdown to freshman wide receiver Arcelles Johnson, giving Moorpark a late 21-20 lead.
Valley fought back, returning the Raiders’ kickoff for 41 yards to their 44-yard-line with 2:46 left to play, but the comeback was all for naught.
After making it to the Raiders’ 20-yard line, the Monarchs decided to risk it on fourth and 14, only to lose five yards on a false start penalty, and then get sacked for a loss of 14 yards after a bad snap.
The turnover on downs allowed the Raiders to run out the clock and snatch a late win giving the Monarchs a taste of their own medicine from last week.
Towns said the team went for it on fourth down because the possible game-winning field goal attempt was “out of our kicker’s range, and it had to be inside the 20 [yard line] for him to kick.” After the other two kickers left the team, Towns asked freshman wide receiver Daniel Mauricio to be the kicker, but did not believe he had the range to attempt a kick from the Moorpark 20-yard line.
From the start of the second quarter, it seemed like enough flags were thrown to cover the entire field. A total of 31 penalties were given in the game, mostly for holding and false starts, but this proved significant as the stoppages in play did not let Valley gain momentum in the second half.
“If it hurts, that’s because the game means something to you,” said assistant coach Ricardo Zepeda in the huddle after the game.
Valley is now fourth place in the conference, and will look to recover against last place Santa Monica College on Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. in Santa Monica.