FOOTBALL: For the first time since the end of the 2011 season, the Pirate football team does not sit atop the Northern Conference following their 44-23 loss to College of the Canyons at the Sportsplex Saturday night. VC (4-3, 2-1) was with one, 14-13 in the second quarter, and pulled to within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but too many missed opportunities and too many big plays by the Cougars ended VC's 9-game conference winning streak.
The game had an auspicious beginning, fitting of the nearly full moon rising over the horizon. Ventura threw an interception on its first play from scrimmage, but the Cougars handed the ball back four plays later when an errant snap over the punter's head turned the ball back to VC on downs, deep in the Canyons end. Aaron Stanton made quick work of the opportunity, scoring on the next play, a5-yard run, and Kevin Kircher's kick put the Pirates ahead 7-0.
Canyons had the ball for four more plays before Ben Dixon forced a fumble by the CoC quarterback, and Richard Palmer returned the fumble back to the Cougars' 34-yard line. The Pirates advanced to the 11-yard line on four playes before penalties and losses moved them back 13 yards. Ventura missed a 40-yard field-goal on 4th-and-19, and Canyons was back in business. They drove down and evened the score at 7-7 with 3:32 remaining in the first quarter.
On their next possession, Canyons scored on a 36-yard pass play to take a 14-7 lead after an interception by VC's Patrick Hall was nullified by a penalty early in the drive. VC did answer with a 67-yard, 11-play drive, culminating in Brad Odeman's 14-yard touchdown pass to Kevon Mitchell on a fourth down play, but the extra point sailed wide and VC trailed 14-13 with 3:49 remaining in the first half.
Canyons sandwiched a pair of touchdowns around intermission, the second off of a VC interception, and took a commanding 27-13 lead with 11:44 left in the third period. The Pirate defense created some momentum a short time later, as Chet Sterling recovered a Cougar fumble in the end zone for a Pirate score. Alex Nelson's kick narrowed the Cougar lead to a touchdown, 27-20.
Both teams traded field goals around the beginning of the final quarter, Canyons a 42-yarder with 1:26 left in the third, and VC's a 36-yard kick by Nelson at the 12:52 mark of the fourth. On Canyons' next drive, they took just 33 seconds to score, following a 62-yard pass and run play with a 3-yard touchdown run to pull ahead 37-23. The Cougars added a late touchdown for the final 44-23 margin.
Odeman passed for 229 yards and a touchdown, and Montre Lee led the receiving corps with five catches for 53 yards. Stanton also had seven catches for 49 yards. Defensively Ronny Camacho had 12 tackles for the Pirates, including a quarterback sack. Hall made seven stops, including three for a loss and a sack. he also had an interception in addition to his pick that was called back.
The Pirates road back will not be an easy one, as they travel to Cerritos on Saturday Oct. 26 for a 7:00 pm game. They will return fpor their final regular-season home game on Saturday Nov. 2 against Allan Hancock College. Both games can be seen live on www.socalcollegesports.com.