Already in uncharted territory, the No. 4-seeded Pirate football team continued its journey to "Play for More" Saturday night with a 31-21 victory at No. 2 Riverside City College in the Southern California Football Association championship game. Wide receiver Brandon Jordan had six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown to earn Most Valuable Player honors, and defensive back Jaylen Watson had a nine tackles and one pass break-up to earn Defensive Player of the Game accolades as the Pirates advance to the CCCAA State Championship to be played Saturday Dec. 8 in Sacramento against Laney College.
In remembrance of VC alumnus and former assistant coach Brenden Daley '10, who passed away nearly a year ago to the day, the Pirates pledge to #PlayForMore in the 2018 season continued with Ventura's first win over Riverside since 2011. Quarterback Brock Domann passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 60 more yards and another score, while Gil' Scott Jackson had 26 carries for 86 yards and one trip to the end zone. Defensively, watson, Trevon Lambert and Dondre Baker each recorded nine tackles. Brett Moyer had eight stops.
The game was well played by both teams, but VC's performance on third down keyed the victory. The Pirate offense converted 47 percent of its third down chances (8-17) while the VC defense limited the Tigers to a 33 percent conversion rate on third down (10-15).
Both teams failed to get on the board early. Ventura had a key early stop midway through the first quarter on RCC's 4th-and-2 at the Pirates' 20-yard line. The Tigers finally broke through with a 7-play, 67-yard drive late in the first for a 7-0 advantage at the quarter break.
On the ensuing drive, Ventura received the first big break of the night when an Riverside defensive holding penalty negated a Tiger interception. Four plays later, Domann hit Jordan for a 25-yard touchdown strike, and Kyle Continente's kick evened the score at 7-7 less than a minute into the second quarter.
VC (11-1) held Riverside to a three-and-out on the next possession, and Calvin Williams' partially-blocked punt gave the Pirates a short field at the RCC 48-yard line. Domann then engineered another scoring drive, connecting with Jared Thomsen on a 20-yard pass before Jackson hit paydirt from a yard out. Continente made it 14-7.
The Pirates had a field goal attempt blocked on their next possession, but the VC defense held fast and forced another three-and-out by the Tigers.
On the next try, Ventura took full advantage with a 12-play, 81-yard drive to the end zone. A 24-yard pass to Chris Brooks set up Domann's 11-yard scoring run with 1:16 left in the half.. Continente's PAT put the Pirates ahead 21-7 before Riverside managed a quick score for a 21-14 halftime score.
Riverside made a new game of things early in the third quarter, forcing a Pirate punt, then scoring on a 44-yard run to tie the score at 21. VC's defense followed with a pair of key stops, first on a 4th-and-8 play at the Pirate 15-yard line, then following the only turnover of the game, a Riverside interception deep in Tiger territory.
When the Pirates took possession early in the fourth quarter, Domann led another crucial scoring drive, this time for 11 plays and 75 yards. Pass completions to Brooks and Jordan for 15 and 18 yards, respectively set up Domann's 10-yard touchdown pass to Jackson with 8:25 remaining in the game. Continente added the extra point for a 28-21 lead.
VC's defense stepped up one last time, holding the Tigers on 4th-and-6 near midfield to turn the ball over on downs, and Jackson took over from there. The sophomore running back had 20 yards rushing on seven carries to set up the game clinching 36-yard field goal by Continente, using 3:44 off the clock and forcing Riverside to use all of their timeouts. The Tigers failed to score on their final possession, and Ventura advanced to their first ever CCCAA state football championship game with the 31-21 victory.
Ventura will take on Northern California champion Laney College of Oakland in the title game. The teams will square off Saturday Dec. 8 at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento. The eagles defeated Fresno City College 30-7 on Saturday to advance to the title game. The game will be nationally televised by @ElevenSportsUSA and online by @BAOSNtv.
The Pirates celebrate their Southern California Football Association championship Saturday in Riverside.