The Ventura College football team completed its second straight undefeated Northern Conference schedule, defeating Cerritos 44-34 Saturday night at the VC Sportsplex. Quarterback Jake Constantine threw four touchdown passes, two to Sam Flowers, and Gil Scott Jackson accounted for 118 yards from scrimmage. Meanwhile the Pirate defense sacked the Falcons' eight times, including three by Trennan Carlson and 2.5 by Jesse Lemonaire. Ventura (8-2, 5-0) will now prep for the Southern California Football Association playoffs with the opponent and location to be announced.
The was the 15th consecutive conference victory for the Pirates (8-2, 5-0) dating back to September 2015. They have won outright or shared four straight Northern Conference titles, and five out of the last six. VC has been dominant in conference play under 8th-year head coach Steve Mooshagian, posting a 36-9 conference record since his arrival on campus prior to the 2010 season. VC is 20-2 during the course of the team's 4-peat and 30-4 in the past six conference seasons.
The Pirates got on the board wit their second possession as they took advantage of a short field in the 8-play, 48-yard drive. Constantine hit Flowers on an 11-yard scoring pass to complete the drive, and Cooper Garcia converted the PAT for a 7-0 VC advantage midway through the first quarter.
After a quick Cerritos score, the Ventura took the ball at their own 11-yard line, and marched down the field for another score, with Tyrese Gholar handling a lion's share of the work. He rushed for 43 yards on the drive, including the final four yards to paydirt. Garcia's kick made it 14-7 for VC with 3:47 on the clock.
On the ensuing drive, the Falcons used the big play once again to quickly move down the field for another touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, the score was tied 14-14.
Constantine led a 71-yard, 11-play drive on the next possession, punctuating it with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Flowers with 10:56 remaining in the second quarter. On the drive, the Pirate signal caller threw for 61 yards leading to the score. Garcia's kick put the Pirates ahead 21-14.
The Falcons seemed poised to answer VC's score with another one of their own on the next drive before Carlson had a big sack on a 4th-and-6 at the Pirates' 15-yard line. Unfortunately, the Pirates went 3-and-out with the turnover on downs, punting the ball back to Cerritos. Two plays later, the Falcons scored on a 60-yard touchdown pass. on the ensuing PAT, Lemonaire blocked the kick, and Jaylen Watson returned the ball 98 yards for two points for Ventura. The 3-point swing gave the Pirates a 23-20 lead with 6:01 left in the half.
After a Pirate punt, the VC defense grabbed the momentum and brought it Ventura's way. With Cerritos facing a 3rd-and-10 at their own 23 yard line, Lemonaire and Bradley Taylor sacked the Falcon quarterback forcing a fumble. Bradley recovered giving the Pirates the ball at the Falcons' 10 yard line.
Four plays later, quarterback Ricky Twon found the end zone from one yard out on a fourth down play. Garcia's kick made it 30-20 with 1:47 remaining in the second period.
The defense stepped up again on the next possession, forcing a quick 3-and-out by Cerritos. A short punt gave VC the ball at the Cerritos 42-yard line.
It took Ventura just five plays and 38 seconds to cover the 42 yards to the end zone, scoring another touchdown on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Constantine to Kendric Mallory. Garcia remained perfect for the season with another PAT to make the score 37-20 at halftime.
The game settled in a bit in the third quarter with the teams trading punts to begin the third quarter.
VC's defense came up big again midway through the period when Carlson forced a fumble on a 2nd-and-goal play for the Falcons. Praise Villiamu recovered the fumble and returned it 14 yards.
The Pirates took full advantage, driving 58 yards in five plays for another score. Constantine threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Benson to complete the drive. Garcia's kick made it 44-20 with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter.
The Falcons scored twice in the final period, but the outcome had been determined much earlier. Ventura posted the 44-34 victory.
Constantine completed 18 of 24 passes in the game for 164 yards and four touchdowns. His 28 touchdown passes on the season leads the SCFA. Jackson ran the ball 13 times for 64 yards and caught six passes for 54 yards, totaling 118 yards from scrimmage. Gholar ran the ball 12 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. Flowers had five catches for 68 yards and two scores.
Defensively, Lemonaire continued his dominant season at defensive end with nine tackles, 2.5 sacks, another tackle for a loss, two quarterback hurries and a blocked extra point. Dondre Baker had seven tackles, including a pair of sacks, and Carlson had six stops and three sacks. Alloney Burris and Alvin Pacheco also recorded six tackles each for the Pirates.
Ventura now awaits its seed in the Southern California Football Association playoffs. Their match-up will be announced on Sunday with the SCFA semifinals taking place Saturday Nov. 18.