After waiting 3 years for the chance to play in a bowl, any bowl, another couple of days should not matter.
That’s when the Raiders of Moorpark College will find out whether they have been invited to play in the PONY Bowl at Orange Coast College on Dec. 3.
“Our chances are 75% of getting a bowl berth,” Coach Jim Bittner said after Moorpark defeated L. A. Southwest, 51-22, Saturday at home to clinch the Northern Division championship of the Western State Conference.
Had the Raiders (9-1 overall, 8-1 in conference play) lost the regular-season finale, they would not even have been considered for the WSC Bowl. The victory assured Moorpark, at the very least, a berth in that bowl.
“We don’t want to go to the WSC Bowl because we really don’t want to play a team that we have already played,” Bittner said. “The PONY Bowl is the one that we think we have the most realistic chance of going to.”
Fullback Larry Roberts rushed for a game-high 210 yards and 4 touchdowns to lead Moorpark, ranked 13th in the state by the JC Athletic Bureau. The Raiders compiled 498 total yards, including 405 in 63 carries.
Roberts, who scored on runs of 6, 51, 2 and 1 yards, had added incentive to perform well against Southwest (5-5, 4-5) because Moorpark was coming off a 12-10 upset loss to Ventura.
“It hurt so bad when we lost,” Roberts said. “I knew we had to win today to go to a bowl.”
It’s doubtful that any Moorpark player did not realize the importance of defeating Southwest after Bittner spent most of last week drumming home that message.
“This win just makes last week even more bitter,” Bittner said. “But I think today that we showed the kind of team we really are.”
The Raiders, whose last bowl appearance was in the 1985 Brahma Bowl, dominated Southwest from the outset. Tony Kerr, who gained 110 yards in 16 carries, scored Moorpark’s first touchdown on an 11-yard run with 9:51 left in the first quarter. Quarterback Jayson Merrill, who completed 3 of 8 passes for 93 yards, connected with Rick Wright on a 69-yard scoring pass play to put Moorpark ahead, 14-0, midway through the period.
Moorpark was held to a field goal in the second quarter and led, 17-6, at halftime. The Raiders scored 3 times in the third quarter and twice in the fourth quarter on runs by Roberts.
Southwest quarterback Herman Tatum, the leading passer in the WSC, threw 3 touchdown passes to wide receiver Tim Campbell and completed 22 of 51 for 358 yards. Campbell led all receivers with 225 yards in 12 receptions.