Quarterback Brad Gossen threw for five touchdowns and rallied Westlake High from an 18-point, second-half deficit Friday, but the Warriors still fell short, 40-36, to Palos Verdes.
Unfortunately for Gossen and the rest of the Warriors, however, they lost when running back Austin Peters of Palos Verdes caught a short pass from quarterback Dean Decker and outraced everybody to the end zone on a 70-yard play with 3:21 remaining.
Gossen threw 27 passes, four for touchdowns to running back Gary Wellman. But the last of the passes bounced out of Wellman’s hands and into the arms of Palos Verdes defensive back Sam Woon.
Palos Verdes, which punished Westlake for 287 yards rushing, ran out the clock behind 6-1, 205-pound fullback Brian Connors, who had 143 yards on 18 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game.
Gossen completed 15 passes for 298 yards as Westlake piled up 416 yards. His 10 touchdown passes in three games already have established a school season record.
The senior left-hander twice brought Westlake (2-1) from behind against a Palos Verdes team that was 0-2 after blowing a 14-point, second-half lead in a 33-28 loss to Leuzinger last week.
Palos Verdes led, 14-0, in the first quarter when Gossen hooked up with Bill Fisher on a six-yard scoring play. In the second quarter, a 61-yard pass from Gossen to Wellman, plus another Gossen pass to Wellman for the conversion, put Westlake ahead, 15-14.
But Palos Verdes then drove 59 yards, all on the ground, to another score. After Gossen was sacked on fourth down at midfield, the Sea Kings struck again, driving 48 yards to a touchdown that made it 27-15 at halftime.
Westlake, ranked fifth in the Valley by The Times, was seemingly in over its head when Warrior Todd Thompson fumbled the second-half kickoff after being hit by Jim Cole. The ball bounced into the arms of Kaz Shimizu, who returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.
Gossen then threw two yards to Wellman at the end of a 49-yard drive to make it 33-22 with 7:32 left in the third quarter. A 37-yard pass to Wellman on the first play of the fourth quarter ended a 75-yard drive and made it 33-29.
Finally, with 3:53 remaining, Gossen capped a 53-yard drive by faking a handoff into the line on fourth down from the one and hitting Wellman in the end zone for Westlake’s final score.
Then Palos Verdes got the game-winning play from Peters.