For the first time since the program rose from obscurity three years ago, Westlake Village Oaks Christian was forced to rally from a fourth-quarter deficit and work overtime Saturday afternoon at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
The Lions, ranked No. 2 in the state by CalHiSports.com, held on to defeat No. 18 Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman, 27-20, in the inaugural CIF Division III State Championship Bowl Game, extending their winning streak to a state-leading 46 games.
"It was exciting, but I don't want to play any more games like this," said running back-defensive back Marshall Jones, who scored three touchdowns, including the winner in overtime.
"That was the first time I've really had to play a fourth quarter....I was worn out."
Jones, starting at running back in place of injured standout Marc Tyler, scored on a seven-yard run on the first possession of overtime, and Oaks Christian's defense stopped the Cardinals on downs to secure the victory.
"They could have won that game," Coach Bill Redell said of Cardinal Newman. "They controlled the clock, controlled the ball."
Cardinal Newman (13-2) had the ball for 34 minutes 11 seconds to only 13:19 for the Lions (15-0).
Oaks Christian quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who has committed to Notre Dame, came into the game with only three interceptions this season, but he had three passes intercepted, all in the first half.
The second set up a 34-yard field goal by Ellio Torrano that cut the Cardinals' deficit to 13-10 with one minute left in the half.
The Cardinals received the second-half kickoff, marched 61 yards in 14 plays and took a 17-13 lead on a one-yard sneak by backup quarterback Max Pond.
Oaks Christian moved back in front, 20-17, on a three-yard touchdown run by Jones with 5:57 left, a play that was set up by Oaks Christian's longest play from scrimmage, a 26-yard run by freshman Malcolm Jones, Marshall's brother.
Malcolm, who was Tyler's replacement at linebacker, also returned a 64-yard interception for a touchdown in the first half.
Cardinal Newman answered with another long drive that was aided by two pass-interference penalties, the second on fourth and 10 at the Oaks Christian 43, but the Cardinals had to settle for a tying 29-yard field goal by Torrano with 31.1 seconds left.
"People underestimated us coming into this game," Coach Paul Cronin said. "Obviously, they're going to be disappointed, but this will be some great memories."