The Pirate football team used its deep and strong group of running backs to run over Long Beach 66-21 Saturday in their Northern Conference opener at the Sportsplex. VC amassed 400 yards on the ground with five rushing touchdowns by five different runners in the victory. The VC defense also had a pair of touchdowns, including a 100 yard interception return by CJ Hodgdon and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Russell Henderson.
It took the Pirates, ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 1 in Southern California, a bit to get going following the bye week. Long Beach took the opening kickoff and marched 78 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead on the Ventura.
VC had a quick answer, however, taking the ensuing kickoff 64 yards in seven plays, culminating in a 31-yard run to paydirt by Jesse Valenzuela. Alberto Arroyo, who was a perfect 9-9 on PAT's during the game, kicked the extra point for a 7-7 tie.
The Pirate defense held the Vikings to a three-and-out on the next possession, and a short punt gave VC the ball at midfield.
Ventura drove to the LBCC 9-yard line before the drive stalled, and Arroyo came on to kick a 26-yard field goal for a 10-7 Pirate advantage.
That score would remain for the rest of the opening period.
The teams traded possessions until early in the second quarter, when the Pirates got untracked with three touchdowns inside of 1:38 of game time.
VC matriculated 62 yards down the field in 10 plays led quarterback Jordan Pachot, who was 16-28 for 196 yards and two touchdowns on the night. The drive was punctuated by 33-yard catch and run by receiver Mark Ferrell, who spun past the Vikings' initial contact and sprinted to the endzone for the score. Arroyo's kick made it 17-7 for Ventura.
The Pirates pinned the Vikings deep on the ensuing kickoff, and two plays later, a bad snap from center was recovered by Ventura's Henderson in the end zone for another VC Touchdown.
On the next kickoff, VC forced a Long Beach fumble and, after a mad scramble for the ball, Daquan Benjamin recovered for the Pirates. Two plays later Julian Kelly rushed 40-yards around left end for another score, and just like that the Pirates led 31-7.
If there was any doubt about the ultimate outcome of the game at halftime, Ventura put that to rest early in the third quarter. The Pirates methodically took the opening kickoff 68 yards in nine plays, and scored a touchdown on Derek West's 20-yard scamper and leap into the end zone over a pair of would-be Long Beach tacklers at the goal line. Arroyo's kick was good for a 38-7 Pirate lead.
Two possessions later, Pachot hit a sprinting Chris Atkins in stride down the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown pass. Arroyo made it 45-7 with 6:21 remaining in the third stanza.
Long Beach did manage a touchdown toward the end of the quarter, but VC had a quick answer. On the ensuing drive, Chuck Wick put together a pair of 29-yard runs before barreling through the goal line for a 1-yard score finishing a 1:17 drive in five plays. Arroyo's kick made it 52-14 for the Pirates at the quarter break.
The Pirate defense held the Vikings on a 4th-and-7 at the LBCC 45 yard line on the next possession, giving the offense another short field to work with. Alex Tili took control of this drive with rushes of 23 and six yards, respectively, and quarterback Vince Walea ran other nine on a strong rush. Tili finished the drive with a 4-yard scamper around left end to the endzone for a 59-14 lead with 12:32 left in the game.
Long Beach began to move the ball late, and they marched down the field before the VC defense provided the final fireworks of the night. As the Vikings seemed ready to punch a score through, CJ Hodgdon snared a LBCC pass out of the air at the goal line, racing 100 yards back down the field for a pick-six touchdown.
The Vikings scores an inconsequential touchdown late and the Pirates posted the impressive 66-21 victory.
The record-setting game was the Pirates' third game of the year scoring 60 or more points. Saturday's total of 66 is the second-most all-time in program history. Additionally, the 400 yards rushing is the fourth-highest total in school history.
More impressively, Ventura had four running backs total over 50 yards in the game, and five scored touchdowns. Valenzuela led the effort with 91 yards on just two runs while Wick had 80 yards on seven carries. Tili and Kelly totaled 60 and 55 yards, respectively, and Pachot added 35 yards on five carries to his passing totals. West had six carries for 35 yards and James Miles totaled 34 yards on seven rushes.
Ferrell led the receivers with 84 yards on four catches.
Ventura next hosts Bakersfield on Saturday Oct. 23 at the VC Sportsplex. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 pm. Admission will be completely cashless, and fans can purchase tickets online (https://ventura.vbotickets.com/events).