Junior Gabriel Lozano wins a thriller for the varsity football team

Lozano was called out to win the game for Westlake. It was one of those moments where time seemed to slow down. With a flawless snap from long-snapper junior John Oehrlein and a quick set by place-holder senior Steven Crider, the ball was primed.

It was Lozano’s turn to show his stuff, and he pulled it off, burying the game-winning field goal, his fourth of the game, to give Westlake the victory. Cheers erupted from the Westlake home stands as players rushed the field to celebrate the victory.

Emotions were flaring on both sides of the stadium, but Lozano managed to stay cool, and with ice in his veins, ended the game.

“It’s what [kickers] do every day,” Gabriel said. “It’s what we train for, and you have to stay calm in that situation. All the work [in practice] paid off tonight.”

It was a defensive game from the beginning; Westlake scored the least amount of points in one game all season. In fact, the first touchdown of the game came in the second quarter by way of an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback junior Taylor Anderson to senior receiver Jacob Ramos. Lozano converted the PAT, and after a 36-yard Vandegrift field goal, the score was 7-3 early on into the second quarter.

“Tribute to Vandergrift, they did a nice job of defending,” head coach Todd Dodge said. “We came out and wanted to establish the run, and they did a nice job of stopping us early on.”

Gabriel converted on two more field goals — 37-yard and 21-yard kicks respectively  — and the first half ended, 13-3.

The Chaps and the Vipers traded touchdowns in the third quarter,  and after another Lozano field goal, this one from 40-yards, the score was 23-10. Vandegrift started off the final quarter with a 7-yard passing touchdown by quarterback senior Justin Moore, which was met by a 76-yard touchdown run by running back senior Nakia Watson to make the score 30-17 with 6:17 remaining.

The Vipers scored next on a goal-line scramble by Moore, and quickly tacked on another, a brilliantly thrown, 36-yard touchdown pass that found its way into the hands of junior receiver Bryson Brown. Momentum had shifted in favor of Vandegrift, giving the Chaps one last drive to steal the game away from behind.

“The offense did as much as [it] could,” Taylor Anderson said. “At the end of every practice, when we’re doing gassers, coach calls out the field goal unit. If [Gabriel] makes it, we’re done with practice. We have all the confidence in the world in him.”

First down, a 5-yard run by Anderson, and the Chaps were forced to call a timeout. Second down, a 49-yard screen pass to Watson, putting Westlake in field goal territory with six seconds left in the game.

“Someone at some point was gonna stack the box so much with a plan to stop No. 25 [Nakia],” Dodge said. “They did a nice job for most of the night to stop Watson and our run game, there was gonna come a time where our receivers had to step up. We have not been near as good as we needed to be in our screen game. It was a plus for us tonight, and it made a huge difference.”

The bench rushed onto the field as time expired on Friday night’s varsity football game after kicker junior Gabriel Lozano nailed the game-winning, 40-yard field goal to defeat Vandegrift, 33-31.

“There have been very few games in my career like this,” Dodge said. “There have been very few games where there were 40-yard field goals to win the game. It was even more pressure on Gabriel that it was to win the game and not to tie it. It was a huge win for us.”