MOORPARK — The Canyon League has been one of the most drama-filled and unpredictable leagues in the region this season, and Thousand Oaks only added to that reputation on Friday night when it handed Moorpark its first loss of the season, 36-23, tightening the logjam at the top of the standings.
Thousand Oaks improved to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in league play, leaving the Lancers a half-game ahead of Moorpark, Agoura and Newbury Park, who are all 3-1 in league.
“They’re a heck of a football team, it was a good, hard-fought football game,” Thousand Oaks coach Ben McEnroe said. “We struggled a little bit at times in the first half, but that second-half effort was absolutely impressive. Credit to our kids for a good week of practice.”
Thousand Oaks’ offense got off to a slow start with Jackson Taylor completing just three of his first 11 passes and fumbling on the Lancers’ third drive. His 9-yard touchdown pass to Blake Lauritzen got them on the scoreboard, but Moorpark (7-1 overall) opened a 20-7 lead in the second quarter when Luke Cochran added his third touchdown run of the game.
Taylor was able to shake off the slow start and finished the game 11 of 25 for 168 yards with three touchdown passes, the second of which was a 26-yard strike to Silas Kemp to cut Moorpark’s lead to 20-14 before halftime.
“It starts with the guys up front giving me time, doing their job,” Taylor said. “Playing us, you can expect a team that hits a little different, hits a little harder.”
Thousand Oaks took control in the second half, outscoring Moorpark 22-3 with the defense contributing points as well. Taylor connected with Kemp on a 31-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to cut the Moorpark lead to 23-21.
Cochran found a little less room to run after halftime, running 12 times for only 35 yards. He finished the game with 23 carries for 93 yards and the three scores.
Thousand Oaks took a 29-23 lead after an errant Moorpark snap was recovered by Ryan Guintu and returned 31 yards for a touchdown. Brolin Harrah added an 8-yard touchdown run for the Lancers’ final points of the night.
Dean Herrington led the way for the Thousand Oaks defense with three sacks, including one on Moorpark’s final play from scrimmage. Harrah finished the game with 90 yards on 17 carries and the one touchdown, while Kemp had four catches for 76 yards and the two scores.
Moorpark quarterback Elijah Hensley finished the game 14 of 28 for 123 yards, and Jaden Buckles had six catches for 76 yards.
“Sometimes losing a game is the best thing that can happen to you,” Moorpark coach Ryan Huisenga said. “We got up 20-7 and kinda let our foot off the gas there, and this is just a reminder to still tighten some things up.”
Thousand Oaks hosts Agoura next week, while Moorpark will host Camarillo.