There's a new hero at Westlake Village Oaks Christian, and his name is Richie Harrington, a senior quarterback who replaced an ineffective Trevor Gretzky in the third quarter of Friday night's Marmonte League opener against Ventura St. Bonaventure and came away with an improbable 33-32 overtime victory.
With Oaks Christian trailing, 19-0, and the fog rolling in at Ventura High, Harrington orchestrated two scoring drives to pull his team within 19-14, scoring on a one-yard run at the end of the third quarter.
Then St. Bonaventure seemed to get a clinching touchdown from Josh Grajeda with 3:36 left on a fourth-and-goal two-yard run to put the Seraphs on top, 26-14.
But Harrington and the Lions refused to give up. After a roughing-the-passer penalty on fourth down kept the Lions' drive alive, Harrington completed a five-yard touchdown pass to Brett Medders, cutting the lead to 26-20 with 1:27 left.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this article said Trey Smith from Oaks Christian caught a 16-yard touchdown pass in overtime against St. Bonaventure. In fact, it was Blair Holliday who caught the pass.
Then Oaks Christian recovered the onside kick, and Harrington combined with Ishmael Adams on a 27-yard touchdown play off a screen pass with 47 seconds left. The conversion kick was blocked, making it 26-26, and sending the game into overtime.
On fourth down from the 16-yard line on the first possession of the overtime, Blair Holliday caught a leaping 16-yard touchdown reception, and Oaks Christian took a 33-26 lead.
Then St. Bonaventure quarterback Marc Evans connected with Christian White for a 14-yard touchdown pass in overtime. But Brandon Rominger's conversion kick was wide, and Oaks Christian players broke out with a well-deserved wild celebration.
St. Bonaventure had several opportunities for interceptions, but players couldn't catch the ball. It was that kind of a lost night.
Bobby Marquez had two of St. Bonaventure's three interceptions off Gretzky.
St. Bonaventure Coach Todd Therrien was in a daring mood, allowing his team to try a couple fourth-down situations and succeed. One came on Tanner Souza's five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cody Kurz in the first quarter. Another was a 20-yard pass from Evans to Josh Grajeda to the 13-yard line, setting up a seven-yard touchdown run by Shaun Wick that gave St. Bonaventure a 12-0 halftime lead.
Oaks Christian (1-1) played without junior receiver-defensive back Jordan Payton, a USC commit who injured his ankle during practice on Tuesday. Coach Bill Redell decided to hold him out.
"I don't want to risk him being out six weeks," Redell said.
Without Payton, Gretzky struggled and twice floated passes that shouldn't have been thrown and ended up in the hands of Marquez.
Oaks Christian's defense fought hard to keep its team in the game.
But then Harrington changed things in the third quarter. The running game got started and St. Bonaventure (1-1) made penalties and mistakes.
"It was the greatest comeback victory in Oaks Christian history," Redell said.