The big play led the Pirate football team to a big victory Saturday in their 2021 home opener at the VC Sportsplex. Third-ranked Ventura scored five touchdowns on plays 20 yards or longer in their 49-21 defeat of No. 16 San Diego Mesa, while the sixth score was on a leaping catch in the back of the end zone and the seventh came one play following an interception. VC quarterback Jordan Pachot was an efficient 18-27 for 256 yards and four touchdowns and Terrell Vaughn found paydirt three times, including on a 92-yard punt return.
The big plays started early for the Pirates (2-0). After forcing Mesa into a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, it took Ventura just two plays to score on a 52-yard pass and run from Pachot to Brady Sturdivan. Alberto Arroyo, who was a perfect 7-7 on the day in PAT attempts, added the kick for a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
The teams then traded possessions with the Olympians advancing to the VC 26-yard line before failing to convert on 4th-and-2 and the Pirates getting a 29-yard run from Julian Kelly before bogging down just past midfield. Mesa took control following a short Ventura punt, and after one first down, punted back to the Pirates. Vaughn took control of the bouncing ball on the right side of the VC 9-yard line and raced across the field to a wall of blockers, finishing his run in the end zone for another Ventura score.
On the third play of the ensuing possession, Donyai Dixon grabbed the first of his two interceptions on the day at midfield. Chuck Wick carried the ball three times for 14 yards before Pachot hit Vaughn on a fade down the right side for yet another touchdown. Ventura led 21-0 late in the opening period.
An interception off a batted ball ended Ventura's first possession of the second quarter, and their momentum seemed to stall. Mesa turned the pick into seven points with a touchdown and PAT two plays later, and the teams traded punts on the next two possessions.
With 5:00 remaining in the first half, VC started a drive at the their own 30-yard line. Wick had three runs for 22 yards and Pachot completed a pair of passes before finding Vaughn wide open down the left side on a 3rd-and-27 from the Mesa-48 for Vaughn's third score of the half. With Arroyo's kick, the Pirates took a 28-7 lead into halftime.
The Pirates were held to a three-and-out on their opening drive of the second half and the Olympians broke through to partially block VC's punt, taking control at the Ventura 28-yard line. Two plays later Mesa scored to close towithin 28-14, raising the discomfort level among the Pirate faithful.
Late in the stanza, Ventura got untracked winning the field position battle through a pair of punts, beginning a drive at their 45-yard line. After a pair of completions from Pachot to Isaiah Issac for 15 yards each and 13 rushing yards from Kelly, the Pirates were in position to put the game away at the quarter break. With 12:55 remaining in the game, Pachot had an 8-yard scoring strike to Gaven Brasker who made a spectacular leaping catch in the back of the end zone. Arroyo's kick let Pirate fans breathe a little easier with a 35-14 lead.
Another three-and-out by the Pirate defense gave VC the ball back with good field position once again. On a 3rd-and-3 play, Pachot dropped back to pass before scampering 36 yards down the right side for another big-play score for Ventura.
Dixon claimed his second pick on the next possession, returning it 30 yards to set up an 8-yard scoring run by Alex Tili on the next play.
A late Mesa touchdown set the final margin at 49-21.
Tili led another strong team-effort rushing the ball with 62 yards on eight carries while Kelly and Wick ran for 60 and 59 yards, respectively. The Pirates totaled 204 yards on the ground in the game.
Vaughn had seven catches for 110 yards while seven other Pirates recorded at least one catch in the game.
Defensively, Adrian Soracco had 11 tackles to lead the way while Travis Calloway, provided 10 stops. Ralph Navarro and Kyle Stanback each had six tackles and Dixon, Cam Williams and Joe Hernandez all provided five stops.
Ventura next travels to El Camino College on Saturday Sept. 18. Kickoff in Torrance is slated for 6:00 pm.