High school football games don't get more dramatic or compelling than what transpired Friday night during the Marmonte League clash between No. 2-ranked Westlake Village Westlake and No. 7 Ventura St. Bonaventure.
It took two overtime periods before St. Bonaventure (8-1 overall, 7-1 in league) pulled out a 32-31 victory when Cody Kurz caught a two-point conversion pass from Marc Evans after a 10-yard touchdown run by Shaun Wick.
Moments earlier, Nelson Spruce of Westlake caught a 25-yard touchdown pass to give the Warriors (8-1, 7-1) a 31-24 lead.
All night, St. Bonaventure Coach Todd Therrien was acting as if he were in Las Vegas and couldn't lose. He kept gambling and his defensive players responded with six sacks of Westlake quarterback Nick Isham. Twice in the fourth quarter, Westlake had the ball inside the five-yard line and came away with zero points.
Three consecutive times, Westlake gave the ball to running back Tavior Mowry, and three times he was dropped for no gain at the three-yard line. It was that kind of a defensive night for the Seraphs, who did something no team has done in the last two seasons, beating a Westlake team that had won 22 games in a row.
Eric Schneider had two sacks. Ditto for Adrian Torres. But despite that, Isham and Spruce refused to give in. Spruce came alive in the second half. He caught a 43-yard pass on third and long, then caught a nine-yard touchdown pass with 11:17 left to give Westlake a 24-21 lead. Isham completed 26 of 38 passes for 367 yards. Spruce caught nine passes for 146 yards.
But St. Bonaventure put together a score-tying drive at the end of regulation, taking over the ball on its own four-yard line with 5:15 left. Evans, a junior who passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns, calmly moved the Seraphs down field. As time expired, Brandon Rominger made a 31-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
St. Bonaventure got the ball first at the 25-yard line. Therrien decided to go for a touchdown instead of a field goal on fourth down from the five, but Tanner Souza was stuffed.
Westlake took over and needed only a field goal to win. But Alex Ball missed from 36 yards, and on to the second overtime it went.
One of the key plays of the game was a 53-yard punt return for a touchdown by Westlake's Jared Fry in the third quarter that helped the Warriors overcome a 21-10 halftime deficit.
St. Bonaventure's only loss this season came to Westlake Village Oaks Christian when it blew a 19-0 lead and lost in overtime, 33-32. Rominger missed an extra point in overtime. On Friday night, he got his redemption.
Now the Marmonte League is a big mess with a three-way tie for first place among St. Bonaventure, Westlake and Oaks Christian. A series of coin flips is likely to decide league seeding for the Northern Division playoffs, but Westlake's loss has far bigger ramifications for the CIF state bowl championships.
It clears the way for Corona Centennial (9-0) to get a bowl berth if the Huskies stay on course, and helps solidify the chances for Mission Viejo (9-0) and Anaheim Servite (9-0) if either wins the Pac-5 Division championship.