NEWBURY PARK - Jordan LaSecla passed for 236 yards, two-way starter Travis Dickey made two huge plays and the Newbury Park defense played the bend-don't-break style to perfection Friday night, as the host Panthers took over first place in the Marmonte League with a 23-16 victory against Moorpark.
LaSecla's only touchdown pass of the night - a 26-yard connection to a well-covered Dickey in the right corner of the end zone - proved the winning points for No. 6-ranked Newbury Park with 3:42 to play.
Dickey scored earlier on a 20-yard first-quarter interception return - one of four interceptions Newbury Park (7-0, 4-0) had against No. 7-ranked Moorpark (4-3, 3-1). The teams combined for 10 turnovers.
"I don't know if it was a sloppy game," said Newbury Park coach George Hurley, whose Panthers took a big step toward their first league championship since 1999. "It was just a hard-hitting game. It was not like they were slopping around in the mud. It was just a hard-hitting, snot-nosed, kick-em-in-the-shins, tough fight."
It was all of that on a night neither team led by more than six points until the final touchdown, and much of the hard hitting was compiled by Moorpark senior running back Dan Moran, starting in place of injured teammate and No. 2 area rusher Darnell Scott.
Moran, breaking tackles often and combining power with speed, totaled a game-high 228 yards rushing on 37 carries and seemed to get stronger as the game continued.
He was running so well in the fourth quarter there had to be plenty of Newbury Park fans happy the visiting Musketeers didn't have enough time to run after the Panthers' tie-breaking touchdown.
Dave Shelburne, (818) 713-3609