After falling behind 21-6 in the early in the second quarter, and trailing 42-20 early in the fourth, the Pirate football team mounted a furious comeback at Riverside Saturday that fell just short in their 42-34 loss to the Tigers. Quarterback Jake Constantine passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns and Thomas Duckett had 163 yards on the ground on 22 carries. Wide Received Kendric Mallory had nine catches for 150 yards and a score for VC (2-2).
Riverside, ranked No. 4 in the initial SCFA coaches poll of the season, took the opening drive to paydirt and a 7-0 lead just 3:30 into the game. The No. 7-ranked Pirates responded wel with a sustained drive, as well. Ventura took the ball 40 yards in nine plays before the drive stalled at the RCC 34-yard line. Cooper Garcia made a 46 yard field goal to bring VC to within 7-3.
The Pirate defense forced a 3-and-out on the next possession, and the offense used the opportunity to drive in for another score. The drive failed to reach the end zone, however, stopping at the Tigers' 29-yard line, and Garcia's successful 42-yard kick closed the gap to 7-6 with 5:14 left in the opening period.
Riverside responded quickly, taking just 1:47 to drive to the end zone to expand the lead back to eight, 14-6.
After the teams traded punts, Ventura moved back to scoring range early in the second quarter. The Pirates moved 48 yards in eight plays, including a 20-yard pass completion from Ricky Town to Sam Flowers and a 15-yard run by Duckett. But for the third time on the night, the VC drive stalled in Tiger territory. Garcia could not convert on his third field goal attempt, this one from 39 yards, and the ball turned back over to Riverside.
The Tigers seized the opportunity, moving the ball 78 yards in nine plays for another touchdown and a 21-6 lead with 9:01 still left in the half.
Ventura finally found the end zone on the next drive on the legs of Duckett. He had six rushed for 48 yards, and Town mixed in a 27-yard pass play to Tony Daggett, as the Pirates found paydirt on a 17-yard run by Duckett. Garcia's kick brought VC back to within 21-13 at the 5:45 mark of the stanza.
Riverside found an answer once again, however, as they scored another touchdown with 1:03 on the clock, taking a 28-13 lead into halftime.
VC continued the fight after the break as Constantine stepped in behind center and led the team on an 80-yard drive for a score on its initial possession of the second half. THe drive was punctuated by a 31-yard pass to Mallory, and Garcia's extra point brought the Pirates back to within 28-20.
After trading punts once again, Riverside used the big play to expand their lead to 35-20 midway through the third quarter.
Constantine led the offense into the red zone on the next drive, buoyed by a 40-yard completion to Mallory. The Pirates reached the RCC 2-yard line before an interception derailed their scoring hopes.
Riverside used the turnover to drive the full length of the field for another score, posting a 42-20 advantage with 14:51 remaining in the game.
Ventura continued the fight, taking just 2:34 to go 69 yards to paydirt. Constantine was 4-5 on the drive in the air, scoring on a 23-yard pass to Daggett. Garcia's kick completed the score, making it 42-27.
The Pirate defense forced a punt and a missed field goal on the next two Riverside possessions, and with 2:54 on the clock, Constantine completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Kezio Snelling. With the Garcia PAT, Ventura pulled to within one possession, 42-34.
The VC defense produced one more stop of the Tigers, giving the Pirates a chance to tie as time wound down. Ventura took the ball at its own 24-yard line, and drove 41 yards to the RCC 35 before a fumble turned the ball back to Riverside and ended the game. The Pirate comeback fell short, 42-34.
The schedule will not get any easier for the PIrates as they host No. 2-ranked Saddleback on Saturday Sept. 30. Game time is set for 6:00 pm at the VC Sportsplex. The game can be seen live online on the VC Sports Network.