It's always an adventure when the Pirate football team travels to Bakersfield. Saturday was no exception. In the Northern Conference opener for both teams, Ventura came away with a wild 29-21 victory over the Renegades on the strength of five Alberto Arroyo field goals. The freshman kicker connected from 22, 41, 19, 18, and 26 yards on the night to help lead the Pirates to victory. Jayden Vargas had 99 yards rushing for VC (5-1, 1-0) while quarterbacks Dino Maldonado and Alaka'I Yuen combined for 227 passing yards. Travis Calloway had 12 tackles to lead the defense.
The wild ride began on the first play of the game when Chris Atkins took the opening kickoff for the Pirates and ran it back 73 yards to the BC 27-yard line. Four plays later, VC threw an interception inside the Renegade 10-yard line to seemingly end the scoring threat. However, on Bakersfield's first play from scrimmage, the Renegades fumbled and it was recovered by Darius Johnson for another Pirate scoring opportunity. After three plays and four yards, Arroyo came in for the 22-yard field goal and an early 3-0 VC advantage.
Late in the first quarter, the Pirates forced another BC fumble that was recovered by Calloway. The Pirates drove to the Renegade 24-yard line before the offense stalled out once again, forcing Arroyo to his 41-yard made field goal.
The wackiness continued on the ensuing possession. The VC defense forced a three-and-out by Bakersfield before Wes Anusiem broke through to block the punt. Calvin Williams recovered the ball and ran it back 30 yards for the touchdown, and Arroyos kick made it 13-0 for VC with 1:00 left in the first quarter.
The Renegades cut into the Pirate advantage with a touchdown early in the second quarter. VC answered with a 12-play, 82-yard drive that stalled out on the BC 2-yard line before Arroyo hit from 19 yards out to make it 16-7.
Bakersfield narrowed the gap to two points with another trip to the end zone on the ensuing drive before the Pirates were able to execute the two-minute drill and move 84 yards in six plays, using just 1:06 off the clock to set up Arroyo's successful 18-yard kick. VC led 19-14 at halftime.
It was a more conventional second half as the teams traded punts early in the third quarter before Maldonado finally broke the VC offense through, hitting Mark Ferrell on an 8-yard scoring strike with 8:10 remaining in the period.
With Ventura ahead 26-14, Bakersfield made things interesting early in the fourth quarter with another touchdown. After a partially blocked Ventura punt, Bakersfield was moving the ball on a drive to take the lead when it stalled out Pirates' 23-yard line. The Renegades set up to attempt a field goal, but a high snap and the resulting loss gave Ventura the ball on downs.
The Pirates took the opportunity and ran, driving to the Bakersfield 9-yard line, using up precious time in the process. Arroyo booted his fifth field goal of the night, this time from 26 yards away, and Ventura led 29-21 with 3:16 left in the game.
The Ventura defense held fast on two last BC possessions, closing the game out with another interception to preserve the hard-fought victory. Maldonado, in his first action since week two following an injury, was 13-20 in the air of 124 yards and a score. Yuen was 13-22 for 103 yards. Vargas was a workhorse on offense, carrying the ball 17 times for nearly 100 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Pirate quarterbacks completed passes to 11 different receivers led by Christian Lancelotti's four catches for 46 yards.
Defensively, Williams turned in eight stops, including one tackle for a loss, while Johnson recorded seven tackles with two resulting in lost yardage.
Next up, the Pirates re-engage in the Citrus Cup rivalry with Moorpark College. The Pirates travel to the Raiders for a match-up on Saturday Oct. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm.