A year ago, Morro Bay High football star Sam Crizer left the field against Templeton on a stretcher after suffering a season-ending collarbone injury.
On Friday night, he was the last player to walk off the field, and he was proudly carrying a trophy while doing it.
Crizer, the Pirates’ 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior quarterback, rushed for 245 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries in a 30-16 Los Padres League win over the Eagles, a smashing reversal of the 35-7 Templeton win in 2009.
“It feels amazing,” Crizer said, clutching the annual “Clash of the Coast” trophy traded between the two programs to commemorate their intracounty rivalry.
Crizer was also 11-of-20 passing (two of the incompletions were dropped on a misty night) for 111 yards and another touchdown, ran in a 2-point conversion and kicked two extra points.
“We kind of expect this stuff out of Sam,” Morro Bay coach John Andree said. “We put the offense on his shoulders. We say, ‘Go after it, we’re on your coattails.’ ”
The outcome prevented what could’ve been a season-crippling three-game losing skid for Morro Bay.
“The last couple weeks have been rough,” Crizer said. “It’s not fun when you’re losing. That game just put all the love I have for football back in, 110 percent.”
The win put the Pirates (4-5, 3-2 LPL) right back in the thick of the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division playoff chase. Morro Bay came into the week the last man out of the playoff picture in the league standings, in fifth place. Templeton, Lompoc and Cabrillo were locked in a three-way first-place tie at 3-1.
“This thing’s a mess, isn’t it?” Andree joked of the logjam in the standings.
Convoluted upcoming playoff scenarios and contingencies aside, Andree simply wants a win at Santa Maria next week in the regular-season finale.
“We just can’t have a letdown,” he said. “We’ve had highs and lows (this season).”
The Eagles, meanwhile, were coming off arguably their biggest win of the season, 31-21, over Lompoc, which was perfect in the LPL entering that game. On Friday, Templeton (5-4, 3-2) punted seven times.
“They outplayed us,” Eagles coach Dave Harper said.
The Pirates’ defense surged past blocks, holding Templeton star running back Tyler Gray, rated as a three-star college recruit at linebacker by Rivals.com, to one touchdown and 38 yards — about 70 fewer than his average — on 16 carries.
“We did a pretty good job on Tyler Gray,” Andree said. “We call him ‘the man child,’ because he just runs guys over. I thought our defense came to play tonight.”
Morro Bay’s Darek Mendoza rushed for 53 yards and a score on 15 carries.
A 53-yard bomb from Templeton’s Simon Roth to Brad Wright put the Eagles up 16-15 with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter.
Crizer found Dominic Woods in the back of the end zone on a 10-yard scoring pass with 9:29 left in the fourth for a 23-16 lead, as Mendoza punched in a two-point conversion. Crizer then sealed the deal with 4:32 left on a 54-yard touchdown run.
“My whole O-line, the backs, the receivers, were making great blocks and catches,” Crizer said. “Everybody played a complete game.”Added Andree: “That’s the best game we’ve played all year, and it was a good time to do it.”
It was the last regular-season home game for Morro Bay’s seniors.
“It made it really emotional,” said Crizer, a third-year varsity player who came into the week leading the Central Coast with 1,111 rushing yards. “There was no way I was going to lose that game.”