You can always count on something strange and dramatic happening when neighborhood rivals Westlake and Oaks Christian meet in a high school football game, but Friday night's fifth-ever meeting produced an ending that won't soon be forgotten.
"An amazing ending. Spectacular. Best football game ever," Westlake's Chase Jasmin said.
Forgive the sophomore running back if he was feeling a little exhilarated, but he came through with the most stunning play on a night of repeatedly remarkable plays.
With 22 seconds left and Oaks Christian holding a six-point lead, the Lions only needed to get off a punt from their own 49-yard line to win. They couldn't do it. Jasmin shot through the middle to block the punt and Lexi Isham picked up the loose ball and ran 32 yards for a touchdown to give Westlake an improbable 39-36 victory and the Marmonte League championship.
"We knew we were down on our luck and needed a big play," Jasmin said. "We never gave up. It's an incredible feeling."
Westlake (8-2) got its sixth consecutive win and improved to 4-1 in a series that might not happen again any time soon, because Oaks Christian (8-2) is scheduled to move to a different league and a different division next season, and the two schools just walking distance apart have failed to reach agreement on any future games.
Fans will be the big loser.
Among Friday's highlights: Oaks Christian quarterback Brandon Dawkins rushed for 126 yards and passed for 295 yards. He rallied the Lions from a 20-7 halftime deficit with three consecutive touchdowns in the third quarter. There was a 73-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Vincent, a 14-yard scoring run by Darick Holmes and a 64-yard touchdown pass to Holmes.
Down, 28-20, Westlake came back on a Tanner Gee's seven-yard touchdown run and Kevin Robledo's 34-yard field goal to take a 30-28 lead in the third quarter.
Back came the Lions. Chris Davis made an acrobatic catch in the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown reception with 9:38 left to give Oaks Christian a 36-30 lead.
The Lions took a safety to make it, 36-32. After Oaks Christian's Jake Juels sacked quarterback Malik Henry with 1:54 left on fourth down at the 48, Oaks Christian only needed to run out the clock.
There was 22 seconds left when Westlake's special teams came through. Now the Warriors could get a No. 5 seeding for the Pac-5 playoffs.
Loaded with juniors and sophomores who are making improvement by leaps and bounds, Westlake could be a factor in the playoffs.
Eight starters on defense are non-seniors and seven on offense. Henry, a sophomore, passed for 229 yards and didn't make a single turnover. That was in contrast to Oaks Christian, which suffered interceptions to Nick Rodriguez, Isham and Justin Fabiculanan, lost a fumble and four times couldn't convert on fourth down.
Westlake's junior cornerbacks, Rodriguez and Jalyn Harrison, showed they are going to be a force to reckon with in the playoffs and in 2014.