Quick-strike Newbury Park High finally met its match, getting torched for 593 yards by flame-fast Muir in a 43-40 loss Friday night in a Southern Section Division III quarterfinal.
The Panthers (9-3) were plenty hot themselves behind quarterback Chris Czernek, who set a Ventura County record with 462 passing yards to put him over 4,000 for the season--the first quarterback in the state to put together back-to-back 4,000-yard campaigns.
But after Czernek threw his fifth touchdown pass with one minute 16 seconds to play, Muir (10-2) ran out the clock.
“This year’s team surpassed our expectations and we are proud of that,” Newbury Park Coach George Hurley said. “They had more speed and better athletes.”
Five of Muir’s touchdowns were of 45 yards or longer. Tailback Sultan McCullough rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback LaShaun Ward added 145 yards and two touchdowns while passing for 214 and two touchdowns.
Muir’s last score came on a 38-yard run by Ward with two minutes to play.
Czernek completed 23 of 45 in the game, and threw touchdown passes of 43 and 55 yards to Jake Farrel and seven yards to Chris Garty in the fourth quarter. Czernek finished with 4,049 yards and had 9,842 in his career--second in state history behind former teammate Keith Smith’s 9,971.
Farrel had 162 yards on four catches and Patrick Reddick had 192 and a touchdown on 10 catches.
Muir scored in the third quarter on a 64-yard run by Ward to take a 24-21 lead. McCullough scored from five yards early in the fourth, but Newbury Park roared back on three consecutive passes, the last a 43-yarder to Farrel to bring Newbury Park closer, 30-28.
The teams combined for 601 yards of offense in the first half--276 by Newbury Park, which led, 21-18.
Five touchdowns were scored in the first quarter, but due to three turnovers, the scoring pace slowed in the second quarter.
Newbury Park took a 21-18 lead with 11 minutes to play in the half on a five-yard run by Ryan Sullivan that was set up by a 39-yard pass play from Czernek to Jake Farrel.
The difference in the half was Newbury Park’s three extra-point kicks by Shad Agel. Muir missed two kicks and had a pass fail.
Muir struck first--and quickly--on a 65-yard bomb from LaShaun Ward to DeAngelo Steward-Holmes on the first play from scrimmage. Newbury Park responded on a 54-yard pass play from Czernek to Patrick Reddick.
McCullough cut like a chain saw through the Panther defense, running for touchdowns of 57 and 46 yards in the last three minutes of the quarter, but the Panthers came back in the final seconds of the quarter on a 34-yard scoring screen pass to Sullivan.