Missed opportunities plagued the Moorpark Raiders in their first loss of the football season


Sophomore running back Edyon Batta, 6, smashes through the defensive line during the Sept. 7 game against Palomar College, in San Marcos, Calif. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Robert Gonzales

Muffed snaps, out of bound kick-offs, and fourth-down touchdown conversions were some of the unpleasant sites Moorpark Raider‘s faithful fans had to endure on their road trip against Palomar Community College. Despite the disadvantages that all occurred in the first half of Saturday’s away game, the Raiders found themselves only 14 points down to the Palomar Comets going in at halftime.

Fifth-year head coach Mike Stuart said, “We got to get off the field and then [improve] special teams; too many guys on the field, not enough guys on the field, kicked it out of bounds, we just gave ourselves really really bad field position.”

Sophomore kicker Haig Mekshian, 97, punts the ball downfield during the game on Sept. 7. The Raiders fought hard but fell to Palomar College 30-19. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

After halftime, the Raiders received the football with an opportunity to cut the lead to one possession. But special teams trouble reared its head once again.

Jordan Cuevas, the Raiders return man, fumbled the ball on the Moorpark 20-yard line and the Comets recovered.

The Raiders defense convincingly stopped the Comets from scoring a touchdown, but the inevitable field goal put the game out of reach and the Raiders never got within one possession again.

The final 30-19 score highlighted the Raiders ability to fight back in the game, but the 17-point deficit was too much to overcome.

Two defensive playmakers kept the Raiders in the first half of the game; freshman free safety Mike Lopez and sophomore cornerback Colby Williams consecutively intercepted Palomar’s sophomore quarterback Rodney Thompson.

Freshman Trevor Santos, left, Sophomore A'Zhaun Molett, middle, and sophomore Edyon Batta, right, walk onto the field during the Sept. 7 game against Palomar College in Photo credit: Ryan Bough

“I mean I think the defense is pretty good, but we can’t get content, we gotta keep applying pressure,” Williams said. “With turnovers or three and outs, it should give the offense a push, that you know we got their backs as long as they can just keep doing what they can do.”

In their first possession of the third quarter, after the defense held the Comets to their inevitable field goal, the offense started to pick up. Four rushes to sophomore running back Edyon Batta and four completions to sophomore wide receiver Dylaan Lee and the Raiders finally pierced the end zone.

Prolific receivers snatched balls from the air from that point on. For the Raiders, Dylaan Lee brought in 12 receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore wide receiver Dylaan Lee, 5, blocks a defender while rushing downfield during the game against Palomar College on Sept. 7 Photo credit: Ryan Bough

But it wasn’t enough to stop the pairing of Comet receivers, Johnny Armentrout and Kyran Griffin. The sophomore, Armentrout, received 8 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown while the freshman, Griffin, added 7 more catches for 119 yards and another touchdown.

Lee said, “[I’m] looking forward to getting our revenge on Cerritos because you know this is not how we were expecting it to go, but we [are] working, we are going to be back next week.”

The Raiders will try to get their first win of the season against Cerritos but will have their work cut out for them against the (1-0) Cerritos Falcons that just beat East Los Angeles 21-7.

Freshman quarterback Isaiah Johnson, 13, looks for an open receiver to pass to during the game against Palomar College on Sept. 7 Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Raiders’ freshman quarterback Isaiah Johnson ended the day fairly well. He threw 17-31, 240 yards through the air, 38 on the ground and two touchdowns in his first game of the season.

“The first half was kind of bad, but the second half we really turned it up,” Johnson said. “We outscored them in the second half so that’s a big thing going into next week. You just gotta come into practice ready to play and just forget about this week, next week we got Cerritos.”