FOOTBALL: What started out as a shootout in the first quarter became a rout in the second as the Pirate football team dropped a 52-28 non-conference contest at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo Saturday night. The Gauchos scored 31 unanswered points from late in the first period through early in the third, taking control of a 14-14 contest. VC (4-2, 2-0) inflicted much of the damage unto itself with five turnovers, including three interceptions in the red zone, in the loss. Saddleback's offense, meanwhile, racked up 550 yards of offense in the contest.
Saddleback received the opening kickoff and promptly drove down the field for an opening touchdown in 3:22. Ventura fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Gauchos a golden opportunity to go ahead by two scores. The Pirate defense rose to the occasion, however, holding Saddleback to minus-9 yards in three plays, forcing a short Gaucho punt. Ventura responded with a long drive of their own, going 79 yards in 3:07, finalized by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brad Odeman to Riley Smith. Kevin Kircher's extra point evened the score, 7-7.
Saddleback received the next kick, and did not stop until they hit paydirt again, driving 75 yards in eight plays. The Pirates' special teams answered the Gauchos when Aaron Stanton returned the ensuing kick 87 yards to the house. With Kircher's kick, the game was even again, 14-14.
Saddleback scored their third touchdown two plays later on a 73 yard pass catch and run, and following a VC punt, the Gauchos followed with a 35-yard field goal early in the second quarter. At the end of the next Pirate drive, VC missed a field goal attempt and Saddleback came back with another TD. Ventura followed with a drive deep into the red zone before an interception halted their progress, and Saddleback scored once again, making it a 38-14 game. To end the first half, Ventura was driving, trying to get back into the game, but another interception deep in Saddleback territory kept the Pirates trailing by 24 points at intermission.
Ventura received the second half kickoff, but yet another turnover halted their progress at midfield. Saddleback turned that miscue into another score, building their advantage to 45-14. At that point, the VC offense seemed to get untracked behind the running of Stanton, who finished the day with 104 yards on 14 carries (in addition to his 87 yard kickoff return). He punctuated an 8-play, 87-yard drive with a 2-yard score. On VC's next possession, Stanton ran for a 26-yard touchdown as VC trimmed the deficit to 45-28 at the end of the third quarter. Saddleback answered by putting the game out of reach with a touchdown on the next drive, making the final score 52-28.
Pirate quarterback Odeman threw for 319 yards, but the four interceptions marred the effort. Dylan McDaniel had seven catches for 119 yards and Smith caught six balls for 79 yards and a score. Defensively, David Emanuel had 11 tackles for VC and Patrick Hall had eight. Ben Dixon made seven stops, with 2.5 for a loss, including a quarterback sack.
The Pirates jump back into Northern Conference play on Saturday Oct. 19 at home against College of the Canyons. VC and CoC both stand at 2-0 atop the conference. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm at the VC Sportsplex.