The Millikan Rams were 14 yards away from victory in Friday night’s CIF-SS Division 6 playoff opener at Camarillo. With less than 15 seconds left in the game, Myles Jackson’s screen pass was headed towards wide receiver Angelo Miranda with three blockers out in front of him.
Unfortunately for Millikan, the right hand of Camarillo linebacker Trey Valles III intervened, deflecting Jackson’s pass right into the waiting arms of teammate Jamie Schatmeier for an interception. Just like that, Millikan’s season came to an end that was as surprising as it was heartbreaking–a 17-14 loss to the top seed in the bracket.
The Rams were playing from behind all night, trailing 7-0 at halftime and 10-0 after three quarters. Millikan was without top playmaker Ryan Pellum due to suspension, and played most of the game without standout senior Tacario Davis, who was ejected late in the first quarter. The furious comeback in the fourth quarter landed them on the doorstep, but an empty red zone trip proved to be the final chapter in Millikan’s season.
“I’m proud of my kids. They went out there and they fought their ass off the entire game,” said Millikan head coach Romeo Pellum. “We were down some guys, we were down three starters pretty much and guys stepped up and did a great job for us. It just shows me the fight that we have and it shows me what we’re doing as a coaching staff as far as developing guys. My mentality is ‘next guy up’, and they did that today, the next guy stepped up and they played a hell of a game.”
Jackson had a productive night overall while leading the Rams offense. The sophomore QB was 22/35 for 299 yards and 2 TDs, but he was also picked off three times. He was without his top two targets for most of the night, but fed juniors Angelo Miranda and Matt Martinez consistently. Miranda had 7 catches for 121 yards and a score, while Martinez had eight grabs for 113 yards and a TD of his own.
Miranda was a standout on both sides of the ball, adding an interception on Camarillo’s first play from scrimmage.
“I have very, very high expectations for Angelo,” said Pellum. “Angelo is a Division I player and big time players make big time plays in big games, and he did exactly that. He made the plays that he was supposed to make and more. The true definition of leaving it all on the field.”
The host Scorpions would strike first late in the opening quarter on an 11-yard scamper by Nathaniel Madrigal. That proved to be the only score of the opening half, as Millikan’s defense got a key fourth down stop at their own 3-yard-line with just over two minutes until halftime.
Camarillo extended its lead on the opening drive of the third quarter, driving down for a 29-yard field goal to go up 10-0 midway through the quarter.
Millikan’s offense finally hit the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter on a clutch throw and catch from Jackson to Martinez. Facing 4th & 12 at the Camarillo 35, Jackson threw a strike over the middle and Martinez adjusted nicely to the ball, making a spinning catch as he crossed the goal line. That made it a 10-7 deficit for Millikan with 10:54 left to play.
The ensuing Camarillo drive featured a key play that swung the tide of the final quarter. On 2nd & 17 from the Millikan 41, Camarillo quarterback Brody Meyer tossed a pass that was headed right towards Millikan’s Kyle Parker, who stepped in front of his man to reach for what appeared to be a sure interception. Yet out of nowhere sprang Scorpions receiver Brandon Contreras, who snuck in for the grab and rumbled into the endzone to put Camarillo on top, 17-7, with 7:13 to play.
Jackson had an answer on the next drive, giving a beautiful pump fake before hitting a wide open Miranda behind a befuddled Scorpions defense. Gelo did the rest from there on an electrifying 66-yard TD, bringing the Rams back within three with 6:49 left on the clock. Jackson was excellent in the second half, going 12/16 for 193 yards and two scores after intermission.
Millikan’s defense was able to get a stop, leaving Jackson and the offense 2:38 to drive 85 yards for the win, but the tipped interception would end the Rams’ comeback hopes.
The Rams defense played well on the road in a foggy environment, holding the Scorpions to 108 rushing yards on 34 carries. Meyer was 12/18 for 171 yards and a score in the passing game. The Millikan defense was led by strong performances from Shea Robertson, Ryan Chester, and Ethaniah Steffany.
Penalty yardage was a factor in the first half, where the Rams were penalized for 70 yards compared to just 10 for Camarillo. The final tally for penalty yardage was 85-45.
It’s a tough end to the season for an emerging Millikan program that took second place in the Moore League and finished with a 6-5 record on the year. Camarillo will visit Culver City in next week’s quarterfinals.