Home cooking has the Moorpark College football team on the cusp of returning to the postseason.
Quarterback Macloud Crowton threw for a touchdown and running back Gabe Landless and Royce Pao ran for scores as the Raiders clinched a perfect 5-0 season at Griffin Stadium with a 27-13 win over visiting Antelope Valley on Saturday night.
Moorpark (6-4) improved to 5-1 in the SCFA Pacific Conference, clinching second place in the standings and its first winning season since 2016.
The win also puts Moorpark in position to extend its season with its first bowl game since the 2016 Beach Bowl.
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The Southern California Football Association is expected to announce its bowl assignments on Monday. The games are scheduled for Nov. 26.
“The players deserve it,” Moorpark head coach Mike Stuart said. “This has been the easiest season of coaching I’ve had. They’re a fun group.
“Plus, the sophomores have been through the COVID year. …They’re the foundation that’s turned this program around. I want to give them one more chance (to play).”
Both teams entered play tied for the runner-up position, giving the regular-season finale a showdown feel.
“That’s a good football team,” Stuart said. “They’re big, that’s probably the biggest offensive line we’ve seen since Ventura.”
Crowton completed 20 of 36 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 83 yards on 10 carries.
Landless (Royal High) ran for 74 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Receiver Alexander Capka-Jones (Oak Park High) caught seven passes for 82 yards.
“We were the more physical team and we established the run game,” Stuart said. “That opened up things that usually aren’t there.”
Trailing 6-3 in the first half, Moorpark built a 13-6 halftime lead with a 3-yard TD run by Landless, set up by Crowton’s 58-yard run, and a 24-yard field goal by Daniel Burke.
Moorpark broke a 13-13 knot with a 1-yard TD run by running back Royce Pao, set up by Crowton’s 25-yard strike to Capka-Jones to the Antelope Valley 1.
Moorpark delivered the knockout punch with a 12-play, 90-yard scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter, finished by Cowton’s 7-yard TD pass to River Stout with 8:07 to play.
Linebacker Christian Cojulun (Grace Brethren High) had a team-high 11 tackles and a fumble recovery, safety Daniel Pierce (Pacifica High) finished with nine tackles, and Braden Robinson and CJ Jackson had interceptions to lead the MC defense, which held Antelope Valley to 13 first downs and 284 yards of total offense.
“The defense has been nails all year,” Stuart said. “They play hard and they’re a good group right now.”
Joe Curley covers high school, collegiate and professional football for The Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more coverage of local college sports, follow @vcscolleges on Twitter and Instagram.