Saddleback planned a big party on Saturday to open their new football stadium in Mission Viejo. The Pirates spoiled the opening with a 31-17 victory over the Bobcats. Quarterback Jordan Pachot overcame a difficult start to pass for 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns and the Ventura defense forced key turnovers that led to a pair of VC touchdowns in the victory.
The Pirates (5-0), ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 1 in Southern California, seemed out of sync in the early going. VC had a pair of punts and Pachot threw an interception in the first quarter, and Saddleback took advantage with a touchdown at the 2:46 mark of the opening period for a 7-0 lead.
The defense maintained the momentum, forcing another Saddleback punt on the next possession. the Pirates then followed with an 82-yard drive in just 2:16. On 3rd-and-6 at the VC 33-yard line Pachot hit Derek West on a swing pass to the left side. West appeared to be downed shortly after the catch, but he managed to keep his knee off the ground, racing 67 yards for the touchdown. Arroyo's kick made it 14-7 for the Pirates with 4:42 left in the half.
Saddleback came back quickly to score a field goal before the Pirates returned the favor. VC drove 70 yards in 13 plays, punctuated by Arroyo's 24-yard field goal just before halftime to make it 17-10.
Ventura continued to hold the line at the beginning of the second half forcing another Bobcat punt on the opening possession of the third quarter.
Pachot then led VC down the field, completing a 43-yard pass play to Terrell Vaughn to set up a five-yard Pachot to Vaughn touchdown two plays later.
Saddleback responded with a drive deep into Pirate territory when Jonah Rubadue intercepted a Bobcat pass to end the threat.
Late in the third period, Saddleback drove to the VC 28, but a fourth down stand by the defense turned the ball over once again.
The Bobcats finally broke through early in the final stanza, scoring a touchdown with 13:08 left to play. The PAT reduced the Pirate advantage to 24-17.
After a Ventura punt, Saddleback methodically drove down the field again, reaching the Ventura 5-yard line. On a 3rd-and 2 play, Donyai Dixon forced and recovered a Bobcat fumble to turn back yet another Saddleback scoring opportunity.
Behind Pachot, Ventura then used 5:12 of the clock, driving 83 yards in 11 plays. James Miles punctuated the drive with a five yard touchdown run in the final minute of play to seal the win for the Pirates.
Pachot completed 25 of 39 passes on the night for 279 yards and two scores. Miles led the ground attack with 32 yards on nine carries and Vaughn had another solid night out wide with seven catches for an even 100 yards and a score.
Ventura heads into their bye week with a perfect 5-0 mark. They will host Long Beach on Saturday Oct 16 in their National Northern Conference opener. Kickoff at the Sportsplex is scheduled for 6:00 pm.