Jim Bittner scouted Oxnard High on Friday night and watched the Yellowjackets fumble 7 times. But the Moorpark College coach had no sympathy.
“I shook my head and said, ‘That team fumbled the ball seven times and we haven’t fumbled the ball seven times in a season,’ ” Bittner said.
But Moorpark, which fumbled 3 times in the first half at Compton on Saturday, was anything but sure-handed. Compton, however, was unable to capitalize and Moorpark won the nonconference game, 17-7, to improve its record to 3-0.
For Bittner, it was an eerie episode of deja vu.
“If you were superstitious you’d say, ‘Geez, just thinking about that stuff makes it happen,’ ” he said. “My heart was in my mouth.”
However, it was a Compton fumble that helped Moorpark to an early lead. Linebacker Junior Rosbia recovered quarterback Damone Scott’s fumble at the Compton 28-yard line on the Tartars’ third play from scrimmage.
Two plays later, freshman Tony Kerr rambled 17 yards to give Moorpark a 7-0 lead.
Moorpark quarterback Jayson Merrill connected with Darren Romano on a 5-yard touchdown pass to cap a 7-play, 50-yard drive midway through the first period. Sean Cheevers added the PAT to make the score, 14-0.
With his team ahead, 14-3, at halftime, Bittner turned the game over to his reliable sophomore fullback, Larry Roberts.
“They were just playing for the sweeps the whole time, so we went up the middle,” said Roberts, who carried 26 times for 155 yards--118 in the second half.
Compton Coach Art Perkins said that the Raiders could have run wherever they chose.
“They were more physical than we were--that’s what it really boiled down to,” Perkins said.
Moorpark softened when it got into scoring position, however. The Raiders amassed 341 yards in total offense but were held to a 25-yard field goal by Cheevers in the second half.
Compton, which finished with 156 total yards, scored its only points with 11:56 left in the first half. Damone Scott hit Henry LeBlanc on a screen pass over the middle and LeBlanc raced 35 yards for a touchdown. It was a rare well-executed play by the Tartars.
In the first quarter, the Compton players often appeared confused. And by the time the Tartars settled down, damage had been done.