It was the drive that refused to die.
Twenty-two consecutive offensive plays and more than 10 minutes after Thousand Oaks High turned back four Palmdale bursts from inside the Lancers' three-yard line, Marc Monestime lunged into the end zone to give Thousand Oaks a three-touchdown lead.
Thousand Oaks went on to defeat Palmdale in surprisingly easy fashion, 31-7, in a Coastal Conference second-round playoff game Friday at Thousand Oaks.
The Lancers (10-1-1) play Antelope Valley next Friday in the semifinals. The Antelopes beat Ventura, 14-10, in another quarterfinal game.
Thousand Oaks took a 14-0 halftime lead, but Palmdale (9-3) took the second-half kickoff 69 yards to the Lancer two-yard line in two plays. The Falcons took four shots, but tackles by linebacker Mack Humphrey, Ben Catlin and two by Jeff Moore shut out Palmdale.
Then, in a drive in which Thousand Oaks thumbed its nose at what was supposed to be a superior defensive unit, the Lancers went 96 yards in 22 plays. The Lancers led, 21-0, with 11:20 left.
Monestime gained 47 of his game-high 153 yards on the drive, and finished it with the second of his three touchdowns.
"That was the turning point," Thousand Oaks Coach Bob Richards said. "They went right down the field to start the half. The drive certainly turned the ballgame around."
Monestime, who last week set the Ventura County career rushing record in the Lancers' opening-round win over San Marcos, has 1,533 yards for the season.
"They did an excellent job tonight," Monestime said. "The line gets all the credit."
Thousand Oaks had 278 yards in total offense, 96 on what will henceforward be known as "The Drive."
"We were grinding it out," Monestime said. "That's a long drive and it took a lot out of us, but we had to suck it up."
Lancer defensive back Guy Nelson sucked up Palmdale quarterback Shannon Culver's errant pass on the next play from scrimmage, and Thousand Oaks drove 30 yards for a touchdown to take a 28-0 lead when Monestime hurtled in from the one with 6:26 left.
Palmdale narrowed the deficit to 28-7 on a 54-yard pass from Culver to Carnel Culver one minute later.
Sean Cheevers kicked a 41-yard field goal with 2:13 left to make the score, 31-7.
Thousand Oaks, in command from the start, went 54 yards on its second possession for a touchdown, the final 13 when Monestime ran around left end with 6:07 left in the first quarter.
The Lancers ran the ball on all nine plays, one series after quarterback Steve Sisco's pass was intercepted on the first play of the game.
On the scoring possession, Monestime ran four times for 34 yards, and fullback Mike Moore carried twice for nine yards. Included in Moore's rushing was a two-yard gain on fourth and one at the Falcons' 20-yard line.
On Palmdale's second possession of the second quarter, Moore's younger brother, Jeff, scooped up a fumble and ran 40 yards for a touchdown with 8:04 left in the half. Humphrey made a jarring hit on Falcon tailback Eric Thomas to force the fumble. Thousand Oaks led, 14-0, on Cheevers' point-after.
Palmdale fumbled four times in the first half and lost two. On the series after Moore's recovery and score, the Falcons drove 45 yards to the Thousand Oaks' 15, but LaShante Parker fumbled and Lancer cornerback Anthony Gonzales fell on the ball.
Palmdale managed only 44 yards in total offense in the first half, compared to 118 by Thousand Oaks.