The Pirates' special teams and defense came up big Saturday in the VC football team's 58-37 victory at El Camino College in Torrance. Chris Atkins opened the game with a 96-yard kickoff return to paydirt, and Donyai Dixon and Chris Lyons each scored defensive touchdowns via interception and fumble recovery, respectively as No. 3-ranked Ventura moved to 3-0 on the young season.
Offensively, the Pirates' corps of runners had another solid night with 189 yards on 36 attempts. VC had five runners with over 30-yards of rushing each led by Julian Kelly's 7-carry, 38-yard performance. Quarterback Jordan Pachot ran for 37 yards with a touchdown on three carries while James Miles had 34 yards on seven attempts. Derek West and Jesse Valenzuela totaled 32 and 31 yards, respectively.
Pachot was efficient with the pass once again, connecting on 19 of 25 attempts for 166 yards and four scores. Gaven Brasker had four catches for 48 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brady Sturdivan and Terrell Vaughn also caught touchdown passes.
Atkins got things going in a hurry. He took the opening kickoff at the 4-yard line and raced 96 yards down the right side of the field for a score just 17 seconds into the game. Alberto Arroyo's kick made it 7-0 for Ventura.
On El Camino's first offensive play from scrimmage, Cail Jackson intercepted a pass at the Warrior's 29-yard line, putting the Pirates into great field position. four plays later Arroyo booted a 39-yard field goal through the uprights for a 10-0 VC advantage before the seats were warm.
The Ventura defense forced a punt on the next ECC possession, but a fumble on th punt return put the Warriors in great field position. Four plays later they capitalized on the Pirate miscue with a touchdown making it 10-7 with 8:22 still remaining in the opening period.
The early fireworks continued on VC's next possession as they fumbled on the opening play, giving way to a 38 yard fumble return for a touchdown for El Camino. The PAT gave the Warriors a quick 14-10 edge.
VC settled in on the ensuing possession, driving 70 yards in nine plays for a score. Pachot completed three passes for 29 yards in the drive and ran for 14 more, including a 4-yard touchdown run. Arroyo's kick put VC back ahead 17-14, still in the opening stanza.
Play settled down after that as the Pirate defense forced an ECC punt on the next drive, giving the offense more good field position. VC took over with 2:15 remaining in the first and drove 47 yards to paydirt. Pachot hit Brasker for a 13-yard strike on the first play of the second quarter to punctuate the drive. The PAT failed, however, and VC led 23-14.
El Camino answered with a touchdown drive, but the PAT failed for a 23-20 VC advantage.
After a Pirate punt, the Warriors marched back down the field once again, culminating in a field goal to tie the score at 23-23 with 6:42 left in the half.
Both teams traded punts before Ventura took over on offense at their own 31-yard line with 3:27 remaining. Buoyed by a 15-yard penalty on ECC, the Pirates drove down the field with Pachot moving the team with his arm and his feet. He ran for 23 yards and passed for 33 on the drive, hitting Sturdivan from two yards out for the score. Arroyo's PAT gave the Pirates a 30-23 lead at halftime.
The fireworks continued for the Pirates as the second half commenced. On the Warriors' second play following intermission, VC's Dixon intercepted an ECC pass, returning the ball 20 yards for a pick-6. Arroyo's kick extended the lead to 37-23.
The Pirate defense forced another El Camino punt on the next possession and Ventura took over at their own 35-yard line. VC then matriculated 65 yards down the field in 13 plays, converting four third-down situations, ending in another touchdown. Pachot completed six passes on the drive for 45 yards, finishing things off with an eight yard scoring strike to Brasker. Arroyo's kick put the Pirates firmly in control 44-23 with 5:43 remaining in the third quarter.
El Camino was not quite finished, however, scoring a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. They followed the score with a successful on-side kick, taking control of the ball at their own 45-yard line. After advancing the ball 13 yards to the VC-42, the Warriors' quarterback was sacked by Kyle Stanback and Angelo Jewell. The ball came loose and was picked up by Lyaons who ran it back 42 yards to the endzone. Arroyo's kick made it 51-30 with 10:14 on the clock.
The final nail in the Warriors' coffin came on VC's next drive. Vaughn caught a five yard touchdown pass from Pachot at the 7:13 mark to make it a 28-point game, locking up the Pirate victory.
Travis Calloway and Ralph Navarro led the defensive effort for VC with 10 tackles each. Lyons and Jackson recorded eight and six stops, respectively. As a team VC had three quarterback sacks and 10 tackles for a loss in the game in addition to two interceptions, a fumble recovery and two scores.
Ventura returns to the Sportsplex on Saturday Sept. 25 with a home date with Chaffey College. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 pm. Admission will be completely cashless, and fans can purchase tickets online (https://ventura.vbotickets.com/events).