The Ventura College football team ended the greatest season in school history just short, 13 yards short. Driving for a potential championship-winning score, time ran out on the Pirates 13 yards shy of the end zone Saturday as they fell in the CCCAA State Championship game in Sacramento 40-35 to Laney College. After falling behind 23-0 in the first quarter, the Pirates came all the way back with a chance to win on the game's final play before quarterback Brock Domann's scramble ended at the Laney 13-yard line. While the Pirates' season ended short of the ultimate goal, it ended long on accomplishments, more than any other football team in the program's 94-year history.
Ventura's troubles Saturday began on their fourth play from scrimmage when Laney blocked a punt and recovered on the VC 9-yard line. A play later, the Eagles found the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, VC had trouble handling the kick ad started at their own 3-yard line. On the next play, they were stopped in the end zone for a safety.
Laney then drove to paydirt following the Pirates' free kick, then scored again late in the period for a 23-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, the Pirates got untracked when Domann hit Brandon Jordan for the first of his three touchdowns on the day. The 29-yard scoring strike and Kyle Continente's kick closed the gap to 23-7 with 14:51 left in the first half.
After the VC defense forced another Laney punt, the offense traversed 90 yards in seven plays in just 2:36 for another score. Jordan hauled in a 23-yard pass from Domann to punctuate the drive and Ventura pulled back to within 23-14.
The Eagles then took nearly eight minutes to drive 63 yards in 16 plays for a field goal with four seconds remaining in the half. Laney led Ventura 26-14 at intermission.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, VC running back Thomas Duckett broke free for a 32-yard scoring run. Continente's kick made it 26-21 and the Pirates had new life.
Laney hijacked the Ventura momentum on the next possession, however, running 14 plays over 7:32, covering 74 yards before finding the end zone.
Ventura responded with another scoring drive, culminating with Domann's 9-yard pass to Jordan, and the Pirates climbed back to within one score, 33-28 at the 2:21 mark of the third stanza.
But as they had done all afternoon, the Eagles controlled the clock with their ground game, shewing up another 6:48 in covering 71 yards in 13 plays before scoring another touchdown early in the fourth quarter to go ahead 40-28.
Domann and Duckett led another Pirate scoring drive late, covering 67 yards in 12 plays. Domann hit Dominic Benson for a 6-yard scoring pass and Continente's kick was good once again to pull VC to within 40-35 with 6:18 left to play.
The Eagles failed to run out the clock on the next possession, driving to the VC 39-yard line with just under a minute to play before turning the ball over on downs.
Ventura had one final chance with 61 yards and 58 seconds standing between them and the state championship. Domann connected with Jordan twice, for 17 and 13 yards, respectively,to direct the team to the Eagles' 30 yard line with seconds remaining. On the final play, Domann had no open targets down field, and scrambled before falling at the 13-yard line, 13 yards away from the Pirates' first state title.
Domann was 19-32 in the air for 185 yards and four touchdowns. Duckett had 18 carries for 109 yards on the ground, and Jordan led the receiving corps with six catches for 109 yards and three scores.
Defensively, Trevon Lambert led VC with a game-high 12 tackles, nine unassisted, in claiming Bob Stangel Defensive Player of the Game Award. Cail Jackson had 10 stops for the Pirates while Dondre Baker recorded eight tackles.
In addition to the big plays early, Laney won the time of possession battle, possessing the ball for 41:46 compared to 18:14 for the Pirates. The Eagles had 288 yards of rushing and ran 81 offensive plays, compares to 57 for Ventura.
As the season ended in disappointment for the Pirates, it also ended in triumph. Ventura won its first ever playoff games, defeating undefeated Canyons and Riverside, both on the road, to advance to the championship game. Head coach Steve Mooshagian became the program's all-time winningest coach during the season as well.
On November 22, 2017, the Pirates were shocked at the sudden passing of alumnus and former assistant coach Brenden Daley. Shortly afterword, they pledged to #PlayForMore in his honor. The 2018 Ventura College football team accomplished more, and then some.
(From left) The Pirates take the field for Saturday's CCCAA State Championship Game in Sacramento. Head Coach Steve Mooshagian and team captains Dondre Baker (28), Trennan Carlson (10) and Thomas Duckett (3) with the CCCAA State Finalist Trophy. Bob Stangel Defensive Player of the Game Trevon Lambert. Quarterback Brock Domann throwns a pass for the Pirates in the CCCAA State Championship Game. (Photos by David Sanborn, CCCAA)