MOORPARK -- In the battle of Marmonte League heavyweights, Westlake delivered the knockout blow early and rolled to a 35-14 win over St. Bonaventure at Moorpark College on Thursday night.
Westlake running back Dashon Hunt scored on a 70-yard run in the first quarter to give his team a 7-0 lead. He finished with 180 yards rushing and two touchdowns, but his first touchdown set the tone for the night.
Westlake (10-0, 9-0), the No. 2 team in the ESPN Los Angeles prep football Top 25 rankings, capped an undefeated regular season and won the Marmonte League championship.
St. Bonaventure (8-2), the No. 3 team in the ESPNLA rankings, dropped to third place in the Marmonte League standings, behind Oaks Christian, which beat Newbury Park, 42-7, in their league finale, and earlier this season defeated St. Bonaventure.
Westlake took a 14-0 lead on a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Moore to Connor Cook in the second quarter and pulled away in the second half.
“We kept waiting for the counter-punch,” Westlake coach Jim Benkert said. “They were going to come back. We never felt comfortable with the lead until the end.”
The game started out looking like a defensive battle. Westlake held St. Bonaventure to a three-and-out on the first possession. Westlake drove down to the St. Bonaventure 13-yard line, but the Seraphs came up with a big interception. Paul Thompson picked off Moore and ended Westlake’s first scoring threat of the game.
St. Bonaventure marched down the field, but facing fourth-and nine from the Westlake 30, the Seraphs turned the ball over on downs. It was the first of three failed fourth-down conversions for St. Bonaventure in the game.
When asked if he gambled too much on fourth downs, St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien said, “That’s what we do. We were trying to win the game.”
Two plays after taking over on downs, Hunt broke off his 70-yard touchdown run.
“He bounced out to the sideline, found a seam and accelerated down the field,” Benkert said.
St. Bonaventure finally got on the scoreboard with a two-yard touchdown run by Zack Green with 3:31 to play in the first half. Green’s touchdown cut Westlake’s lead in half, 14-7.
But Westlake went up by two touchdowns just before the end of the first half on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Tyler McGhee. Moore finished with 163 yards passing and two touchdown passes.
Hunt scored his second touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter. He scampered into the end zone from four yards to give Westlake a 28-7 lead with 11:56 to play.
St. Bonaventure cut the Westlake lead in half again on the ensuing drive. Green scored his second touchdown of the game with 9:16 to play in the fourth quarter. He gained 143 yards in 23 carries and the touchdown gave St. Bonaventure some short-lived hope.
The Seraphs forced Westlake to punt the ball on their next drive after stalling at midfield. With a little less than six minutes to play, St. Bonaventure took over on its own 21-yard line.
But Therrien to gamble on fourth down on his own 21-yard line. The Seraphs came up short and Westlake took over deep in St. Bonaventure territory.
“It didn’t really surprise me,” Benkert said about St. Bonaventure going for it on fourth down. “Any decision is the right decision if it works. We stopped them and made some big plays in the first half.”
Moore punched in the final touchdown of the game on a one-yard sneak with 1:58 left.