The improbable, the incredibly stunning jolt that every team fears when it is holding to a precious narrow lead, slugged the Moorpark College football team flush in the face Saturday night.
The Raiders, with an apparent victory in hand, saw Desert quarterback David Harris connect with wide receiver James Guillermo on a desperation pass with time running out and turn the play into a 75-yard touchdown that gave the Roadrunners a 23-19 nonconference upset over Moorpark, ranked No. 22 in the country by J.C. Grid-Wire, at Griffin Stadium.
Harris eluded two Moorpark tacklers and heaved the ball as far as he could, hoping for the unthinkable.
The third-and-22 pass bounced off another Desert receiver and a host of Raider defenders, right into the hands of Guillermo, who raced in with the winning score as the clock ran down to zero.
“Coach (Steve Dostal) just called a Hail Mary,” Guillermo said. “All I wanted to do was catch the ball.”
Moorpark (0-1) had scored what appeared to be the winning touchdown with 1 minute 7 seconds left in the game on a 25-yard pass from Todd Preston to wide receiver Alex Estrada to give the Raiders a 19-17 lead.
That score had offset a 13-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Keone Ke-a with 2:02 remaining in the game that gave Desert (2-0) a 17-13 edge.
After Steve Sabbe opened the scoring with a 22-yard field goal to give Moorpark a 3-0 lead with 6:56 to play in the first quarter, both sides remained relatively ineffective until late in the first half.
With less than two minutes before intermission, the Raiders launched a drive from their 38 and cashed in three plays later on a 54-yard pass from Preston to Estrada for a 10-0 cushion with 49 seconds remaining.
Preston, a sophomore from Westlake High, got off the scoring pass from shotgun formation. He found Estrada, who had one-on-one coverage, on the left sideline.
Desert scored on an improbable play on the ensuing kickoff.
Bill Hall, a 6-foot-1, 227-pound linebacker, fielded a squib kick and ran 70 yards along the right sideline with 28 seconds left,.
The Roadrunners never crossed the Moorpark 41 in the first half and had only 21 yards passing and 69 yards rushing in the first 30 minutes.
Moorpark had another scoring opportunity midway through the second quarter but a 36-yard field-goal attempt fell short.
Desert’s Harris finished seven of 15 for 148 yards and two touchdowns, while Preston was nine of 25 for 175 yards and two touchdowns, both going to Estrada, who had five catches for 116 yards.