The top-ranked Ventura College football team turned the ball over three times in the first half of Saturday's Southern California Football Association semifinal at the VC Sportsplex resulting in 21 points for visiting Riverside. Ventura ultimately fell to the Tigers 41-21 ending what was otherwise a perfect season. Record-breaking wide receiver Terrell Vaughn had eight catches for 78 yards and a touchdown and running back Julian Kelly ran for 106 yards and two scores on 14 carries to lead the VC effort.
It was a promising start for the Pirates (10-1), as their defense, who had been the heart of the team all season, forced the Tigers to punt on their first possession. Ventura quarterback Vince Walea, starting in place of injured Jordan Pachot, completed his first three passes for 41 yards, moving to midfield. Then VC went for the big play with a wide receiver pass by Vaughn that was intercepted by RCC at the Tigers' 30-yard line. Riverside took advantage of the gaffe and marched down the field for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive, the Pirates were driving again, moving the ball to the RCC 31 before a lost fumble halted progress. The Tigers returned the ball past midfield and took advantage of the short field and had another trip to paydirt for a 14-0 advantage.
Although they were down, the Pirates were not out. Walea led VC 67 yards down the field on six plays to cut the deficit in half. Jesse Valenzuela had the big play, a 26-yard run, and Walea punctuated the drive with a 14-yard pass to Vaughn for the score. Albert Arroyo's kick made it 14-7 with 1:38 remaining in the first quarter.
The game settled down in the second quarter with both teams trading punts until the Tigers on a big play, an 80-yard scoring strike for a 21-7 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Ventura drove down to the Riverside 29 before another turnover made things difficult. Riverside picked off a pass and returned it 75 yards to the end zone. The successful PAT, and a field goal in the closing minutes of the half made it 31-7 at intermission.
The third quarter did not get any better for the Pirates as Riverside opened the scoring with a field goal after a VC punt. The Tigers followed with a 93-yard drive n their next possession to take a 41-7 lead with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Ventura showed signs of life in the fourth with a pair of Julian Kelly touchdown runs, the second set up from an interception by Ralph Navarro, but the mountain was too high to climb. The Pirates had their otherwise perfect season come to an end by a final score of 41-21.
Walea finished the night with 169 yards passing with a touchdown. Meanwhile, linebacker Drew Carter led the defense with 11 tackles. Travis Calloway had eight stops for VC while Jonah Rubadue had six.