A standing-room-only crowd of more than 5,500. A national television audience. Neighbor playing against neighbor.
There was immense pressure on Westlake Village Westlake junior quarterback Justin Moore to perform well against Westlake Village Oaks Christian on Thursday night.
No one needed to worry. Delivering in the clutch is nothing new for Moore. As a freshman, he came off the bench in the Northern Division championship game in 2009 to replace an injured Nick Isham and led the Warriors to victory over Moorpark.
This time, he was even more elusive and electric, rushing for 222 yards in 14 carries, scoring one touchdown and passing for another in Westlake's 43-21 victory over the Lions.
Westlake (5-0, 4-0) moves into first place in the Marmonte League over Oaks Christian (3-2, 3-1) and Ventura St. Bonaventure (4-1, 3-1).
There was a measure of redemption for the Warriors, who lost to Oaks Christian in the final game of 2010, a 29-28 thriller in the Northern Division championship game, on a missed 41-yard field goal by Alex Ball.
Ball came through with five field goals in the rematch, connecting from 33, 40, 47, 44 and 28 yards, giving him 11 on the season. He missed from 40 yards.
Westlake rushed for 429 yards, with Oaks Christian never able to make any adjustments, whether it was Moore on option plays or running backs Jarrius Bishop, Dashon Hunt and Matt Baynard powering up the middle.
Oaks Christian was barely able to hang with the Warriors in the first half because of an inability to stop the run. Moore rushed for 172 yards in nine carries, repeatedly burning the Lions with quarterback draws and option plays up the middle. He had runs of 72, 16, 19 and 21 yards to help the Warriors take a 27-14 halftime lead.
But Moore's best individual play came on a pass in the second quarter. He was rolling right on a second-and-eight from the eight. A wave of Oaks Christian defenders thought they had him boxed in.
Then he retreated, almost reaching the 25 and escaped long enough to release the ball and connect with Alex Egurbide in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown that wiped out a 14-13 Oaks Christian lead.
Bradley Wellman of Westlake came up with the key defensive play, intercepting a Brandon Dawkins pass in the end zone with 2:37 left before halftime. Westlake then drove 66 yards, scoring on a one-yard run by Bishop.
Dawkins, a sophomore, was intercepted twice and passed for 206 yards and one touchdown.
This game separated families and friends. Toi Cook, a former Stanford and NFL player, is the father of Westlake receiver Connor Cook and has a younger son, Carson, who plays for Oaks Christian's sophomore team. People were whispering around the house this week so that secrets could be kept.
When Cook called his wife from out of town and asked how Westlake's practices were going, she said, "I can't talk. Carson's in the room."
That's the kind of rivalry that has developed since the opening of Oaks Christian's doors 11 years ago. Oaks Christian has won seven Southern Section titles. Westlake has won three.
Both schools are pushing each other and creating a fan frenzy.