It had all the build-up of a No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown and lived up to the hype. The No. 2-ranked Ventura College football team traveled to No. 1 Fullerton Saturday and gave the Hornets all they wanted before falling on a late touchdown, 33-28 at Yorba Linda High School Stadium. Quarterback Brock Domann led VC (4-1) back from a 20-7 halftime deficit to a 28-20 advantage early in the final period before the Hornets came from behind in the end.
The fist quarter did not get off to a good start for the Pirates as they lost the field possession battle after the two teams each punted after their opening possession. The Hornets used a short field to set up their first touchdown at the 5:55 mark of the opening period, and intercepted a VC pass on the ensuing drive and took it in for a score for a 13-0 lead at the quarter break.
Fullerton then had the Pirates on the ropes with a 14-play, 69-yard drive, but the Ventura defense held the line, stopping the Hornets on fourth-and-3 at the VC 4-yard line. VC then flipped field possession, and used two plays to travel 55 yards for its first score with 1:47 left in the first half. Domann hit Dominic Benson on a 52-yard pas play to set up Thomas Duckett's 3-yard touchdown run. Kyle Continente's kick made it 13-7.
Unfortunately, Fullerton had too much time remaining on the clock before halftime, and was able to slice down the field for another score a minute later making it 20-7 at halftime.
Domann and the Pirates caught fire after intermission, and they needed just six plays to matriculate down the field to paydirt from the second half kick off. The big play of the drive was Duckett's 47-yard halfback pass to Brandon Jordan, setting up the Domann to Stevie Houston connection from six yards out for the score. Ian Henzi's kick was good for a 20-14 score barely three minutes into the second half.
Three possessions later, Antonio Brown's 12-yard punt return gave VC another short field, setting the ball up on the 50-yard line. Three plays later, Hayden Nease ran 14 yards to the end zone to give Ventura its first lead. Henzi's kick made it 21-20 for the Pirates at the 3:37 mark of the third quarter.
Early in the fourth, the Pirate defense came up big again as Donyal Dixon recovered a Fullerton fumble and raced 41 yards to the Hornet's 14-yard line, setting up another Pirate score. Two plays later, Domann rushed five yards into the end zone and the Pirates held a 28-20 advantage with 12:14 remaining.
Fullerton then scored twice in a five minute span to retake a 33-28 advantage with 2:59 remaining in the game. The Pirates final push for the upset stalled out on the Hornet's 28-yard line with 1:11 left to play.
Domann was 14-27 in the air for 152 yards and a touchdown. Duckett ran for 67 yards on 13 carries and a score while catching one pass for 14 yards. Houston had nine catches for 73 yards and a touchdown and Benson had three receptions for 73 yards. Dondre Baker led the Pirate defense with 15 tackles and Cory Owens recorded 10 stops.
After a bye week, the Pirates will begin Northern Conference play on Saturday Oct. 13 at home against Bakersfield. kickoff is slated for 6:00 pm at the VC Sportsplex.