Ventura College Athletics

Pirates Pull Away Late Against Hancock

VC defensive back Travis Calloway (33) and Aleli Tuitasi (43) close in on an Allan Hancock ball carrier during the Pirates' 35-14 victory over the Bulldogs Saturday at the VC Sportsplex.
VC defensive back Travis Calloway (33) and Aleli Tuitasi (43) close in on an Allan Hancock ball carrier during the Pirates' 35-14 victory over the Bulldogs Saturday at the VC Sportsplex.

In a game that was much closer than the final score indicated, the Ventura College football team posted a 35-14 victory over visiting Allan Hancock College Saturday at the VC Sportsplex. Quarterback Alaka'I Yuen passed for 157 yards and a touchdown and ran for another 99 yards with a score, but he night belonged to the defense. Faced with a short field on many occasions, the Pirates held the Bulldogs to two touchdowns and came up with big plays when it counted in the win. Travis Calloway recorded 13 tackles to lead the "D."

In one of the more bizarre beginnings to a game, the team played a scoreless first quarter. Ventura held Hancock, a consensus top-20-ranked team in the state, to three-and-out on the first possession of the game, only to give up a fumble while fielding the punt. The Bulldogs took possession on the Pirate 30-yard line, and advanced to the 13 before a 30-yard field goal attempt floated short of the uprights.

VC, who entered the contest ranked No. 11 in the state, then easily marched 58 yards down the field in five plays, running 1:51 off the game clock, before giving the ball back on an interception.

Hancock, whose offensive style is dominated by narrow splits on the offensive line and downhill running more reminiscent of 20th century football, took nine plays to move 28 yards before a 43-yard field goal was short once again following a bad snap.

The quarter ended with the Pirates coming up well short on a 4th down play near midfield, giving the ball back to AHC.

Allan Hancock began the second period by matriculating down the field once again, but the VC defense continued to bend but not break. Cory Owens had a tackle for a loss on a first-and-goal play for the Bulldogs at the VC 10-yard line, then he hurried the quarterback on third down forcing an incomplete pass. On the ensuing 22-yard field goal attempt, Hancock hit the right upright for their third missed 3-point try of the first 20-minutes of play.

With VC taking over at the 20-yard line, Chuck Wick had a six-yard gain, followed by a 21-yard run by Yuen. Chris Reaves then connected with a wide-open Terrell Vaughn on a reverse-pass for a 53-yard score. Alberto Arroyo's kick gave VC a 7-0 advantage with 11:41 left in the half.

A Jeremiah Nunnery interception set up the next Pirate possession, and VC went 34 yards in five plays with Yuen completing a 19-yard strike to Deshaun Staples for the touchdown and a 14-0 VC lead.

After the Bulldogs responded with a 40-yard touchdown pass to cut the Ventura margin in half, the VC offense had a 12-play, 78-yard drive to settle the game back to normal to close the half. Juan Gaytan had six rushes for 63 yards on the drive that was punctuated by a two-yard misdirection run by Wick. The Pirates took a 21-7 lead into the locker room.

In the third quarter, Allan Hancock blocked a VC punt to set up another score to cut the advantage to a single touchdown. The teams then traded punts as the Pirates led 21-14 headed into the final period.

To begin the fourth quarter, Hancock missed their fourth field goal of the game, this time off the left upright, as the Pirates maintained their slim margin.

Ventura responded by marching 80 yards down the field in 6:30 to take control. Yuen's 33-yard pass to Blaize Williams was the key play, along with Yuen's 2-yard dive on fourth-and-1 at the AHC 3-yard line. Gaytan punctuated the march with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Owens had a sack and Praise Villiamu had a tackle for a loss in the Bulldogs' three-and-out on the ensuing possession, setting up the Pirates' for the late game-clinching score, a 65-yard run to the end zone by Yuen. 

Ventura produced 444 yards offensively while limiting the Bulldogs to 247 yards. Wick and Gaytan rushed for 74 and 65 yards, respectively, and eight different Pirates caught passes, led by Christian Lancelotti's three grabs for 50 yards.

Nunnery recorded eight stops defensively while Owens and Jalen Cooper each had seven tackles. Darius Johnson had six stops in the game.

 Next week VC heads to Palomar College. Kickoff against the Comets is slated for 6:00 pm at Escondido High School.