MOORE — As their respective offenses clicked off score after score, both Moore and Westmoore were asking their defense to make a play. Maybe just one big play.
The Jaguars finally got that with a couple of fourth-quarter stands, enough to help their ultra-efficient offense finish off a 44-35 victory in the annual Moore War Friday night at Moore Schools Stadium. It's the 20th victory in a row for Westmoore in the series, but didn't come easy.
"That's the best Moore has ever played against us," said Jaguar Coach Lorenzo Williams. "Coach (Brad) Hill had a great gameplan, they were using our speed against us for a while. We had to take a step back, make some adjustments, not get too deep in the backfield and make sure and wrap Deuce up."
Deuce - Moore quarterback Daniel Hishaw Jr. - lived up to the billing as one of the state's best players, passing for three scores, rushing for two more and accounting for 350 yards of total offense for the Lions.
And yet he may not have been the best quarterback on the field on this night, as Westmoore's Dayton Wolfe was equal parts efficient and electrifying, completing 19 of 25 passes for 333 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing for a score.
"I did feel like we were a little disrespected, like I was a little disrespected and overlooked," the junior Jaguar signal caller said, mentioning some state rankings that placed the Lions ahead of Westmoore. "[Hishaw] is a great player, really hard to handle, but we have some guys that can do a lot, too."
Offensively, the Jaguars demonstrated that fact all night, piling up scores on six of their eight drives in the game. It was a team effort, with eight different Jaguars catching passes from Wolfe.
"It's a family mentality, we're all in on everything we do," said senior receiver Colby Phillips, who caught three of Wolfe's touchdown tosses among his six catches for 137 yards. "And it's not just on who's catching the pass or scoring the touchdown but what all 11 guys are doing to make it happen."
Eight of the game's first 10 drives went for touchdowns and Westmoore was clinging to a 29-28 lead late in the third quarter when the Jaguars got a big fourth down stop, as Kylen Tennyson brought down Moore's Jayce Gardner a yard short on a 4th-and-2 from the Westmoore 40.
Wolfe cashed that in by finishing the next series with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kedric Britton, followed by a two-point conversion pass to Russell Raydon to make it 37-28.
But Hishaw, who was one of several Moore players who battled cramps throughout the warm evening, engineered a scoring drive he capped with a 13-yard TD to make it 37-35.
Midway in the final quarter, Wolfe and Phillips hooked up for their third score, and the Westmoore defense finally picked up two big fourth-down stops - once with Tennyson sacking Hishaw on a play near midfield, the second with multiple Jaguar defenders forcing an incomplete pass that allowed Wolfe to run out the clock with multiple kneel-downs.
"I had faith in our defense, I knew they were going to come through when we needed it," Wolfe said. "We just kept working."
The teams traded blows throughout the first half, with the Jags primarily riding the passing of Wolfe and the Lions showing amazing balance - gaining exactly 131 yards both on the ground and through the air - as each cashed in touchdowns on three of their four possessions.
In the end, the numbers were pretty close, with Moore actually holding a 451-410 total yardage edge. But the most important numbers - those on the scoreboard - ended up in Westmoore's favor for yet another season.
"Sure, it's a big win, but we're moving forward to the next game tomorrow," Phillips said. "We know we have a lot to work on, we made a lot of mistakes, and our goals are not just about Moore War but a lot more going forward in the season."
The Lions host Yukon next Thursday while Westmoore will face in-city rival Southmoore on Friday.