With Ventura (3-2) trailing, 13-10, and having picked up just two first downs from seven offensive series, Smith entered the game for the final possession of the first half for the Pirates. His 13-yard diving touchdown run late in the third quarter gave Ventura a lead it would hold the rest of the way, and Caro's 3-yard scoring run with 6:09 left secured the win for the Pirates.
And the Ventura defense stood out as well, holding Pasadena (2-3) to just 12 yards rushing, sacking Lancer quarterback Cesar Hernandez five times and generating five turnovers. Two of those turnovers - a fumble on a punt return and an interception - resulted in touchdowns for Ventura, and another led to the game-clinching touchdown drive.
A special teams play set up Ventura's first score of the day, a 22-yard field goal by Carlos Luna midway through the first quarter. Jordan Howard fielded Hernandez' first punt of the day and returned it 43 yards to the Pasadena 28. A 15-yard run by Caro - who fumbled on the play but recovered the ball himself - got the Pirates a little closer, and Luna's kick made it 3-0 with 7:43 left in the quarter.
Another special teams play made it 10-0 just over five minutes later. Pasadena's Aaron Simpson fielded a Joe Reynoso punt just inside his own 20, but had the ball stripped from him by Ventura's Jamie Holloway, a gunner on the coverage. Antoine McGuire picked up the loose ball at the 14 and carried it in for the touchdown to make it 10-0 with 2:03 left in the quarter.
Pasadena rallied with a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 13-10 lead at halftime, thanks largely to Hernandez. The lefty threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to 255-pound tight end Kwajo Bonsu to complete a 10-play drive that was kept alive when Hernandez - who is the team's punter as well - threw a 29-yard pass to Simpson on a fake punt play. And Pasadena took a 13-10 lead when Jose Rodriguez got behind the defense and Hernandez threw him what became a 59-yard touchdown pass with 3:46 left in the first half.
After another Ventura punt - the Pirates' second straight - Smith entered the game and drove the team down the field in the final 1:19. The Pirates reached the Pasadena 28, and Luna came on to try to tie the game with a 45-yard field goal. However, Pasadena's Pone Faleofa leaped and got a fist on the kick, blocking it and keeping the Lancers ahead, 13-10 at the break.
In the third quarter, however, Smith not only led the Pirates on a scoring drive but scored the go-ahead touchdown himself on a 13-yard run on which Smith dove into the end zone with 2:58 left in the quarter. Then less than two minutes later, Ventura's P.J. Gremaud snatched the ball out of Bonsu's hands at the 43 for an interception he returned for a touchdown to make it 24-13 with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
Pasadena cut the margin to a single score early in the fourth quarter when Hernandez finished a quick, 4-play drive with a 15-yard scramble into the end zone to make it 24-19 with 12:11 left. The Lancers tried a two-point conversion on which tailback James Owens received a pitch and passed the ball back to Hernandez, but the Ventura defense stopped Hernandez well short of the goal line to keep it a 5-point game.
Pasadena had a chance to take a lead on its next possession after forcing a Ventura punt, and got the ball at its own 22. But two plays later, Lakeith Murray made a spectacular leaping interception of a Hernandez pass at the Lancer 47, giving the Pirates the ball back with 10:07 left.
And then Caro put the game away, carrying the ball on 7 of the 9 plays of what became a game-clinching 47-yard touchdown drive. He received a bit of help when Cleavon Barnes converted a 4th and 1 with a 3-yard run to the 22, and capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run three plays later to make it 31-19.
For Ventura, Smith completed 10 of 18 passes for 96 yards and no interceptions in just over a half, and also scored on a 13-yard run. Caro led all rushers with 84 yards on 13 carries. Gremaud led the defense with the pick six and one of the Pirates' five quarterback sacks. And special teams - return man Howard as well as the touchdown on the fumble on the punt - were key for the Pirates as well.
For Pasadena, Hernandez completed 28 of 45 passes for 365 yards and 2 TDs, and also rushed for a score. He also averaged 42.5 yards on 4 punts. But he was sacked 5 times and threw 4 interceptions as well. Wayne Peters led all receivers with 9 catches for 95 yards. Owens had 41 yards rushing on 15 carries. And though Simpson had the costly fumble, he redeemed himself with the catch on the fake punt as well as an interception deep in Lancer territory later in the first half as Ventura threatened to score again.
Ventura Pirates 31
Pasadena Lancers 19
Saturday, October 1, 2011 - 1 pm - Ventura College Sportsplex
V - FG Luna 22 yds 7:43 (3-0)
V - McGuire 14 yd fumble return 2:03 (10-0)
P - Bonsu 7 yd pass from Hernandez (Poage kick) 13:50 (10-7)
P - Rodriguez 59 yd pass from Hernandez (kick hit right upright) 3:46 (10-13)
V - C.Smith 13 yd run (Luna kick) 2:58 (17-13)
V - Gremaud 43 yd interception return (Luna kick) 1:13 (24-13)
P - Hernandez 15 yd run (pass failed) 12:11 (24-19)
V - Caro 3 yd run (Luna kick) 6:09 (31-19)
First Downs: Ventura 16 (8 rush, 7 pass, 1 penalty), Pasadena 19 (6 rush, 12 pass, 1 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Ventura 47-182, Pasadena 29-12
Passing Yds: Ventura 111, Pasadena 365
Comp-Att-Int: Ventura 13-28-1, Pasadena 28-45-4
Return Yds: Ventura 200, Pasadena 80
Sacks-Yds: Ventura 5-22, Pasadena 2-15
Fumbles-Lost: Ventura 2-1, Pasadena 4-1
Penalties-Yds: Ventura 7-60, Pasadena 8-60
Time of Possession: Ventura 32:43, Pasadena 27:17
Rushing: V 27-Caro 13-84, 22-Reed 13-55, 1-Craver 8-25, 5-C.Smith 2-11, 30-Barnes 5-5, 13-Rodarte 1-4, 23-Trueblood 1-4, 4-Koman 3-(-3), team 1-(-3); P 9-Owens 15-41, 10-Rodriguez 2-8, 8-Hernandez 12-(-37)
Passing: V 5-C.Smith 10-18-0-96; 4-Koman 3-10-1-15; P 8-Hernandez 28-45-4-365, 2 TDs
Receiving: V 32-Vizzi 5-55, 6-Burton 4-28, 3-Reyes 2-14, 13-Rodarte 2-14; P 24-Peters 9-95, 17-Hamilton 5-46, 91-Bonsu 4-50, 10-Rodriguez 3-76, 83-Childs 3-61, 9-Owens 3-8, 3-Simpson 1-29
Interceptions-Ret Yds: V 49-Gremaud 1-43, 50-Garcia 1-9, 15-McDonald 1-8, 20-Murray 1-0; P 3-Simpson 1-0
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: V 7-McGuire 1-14; P 43-Sepulveda 1-0
Sacks-Yds: V 56-Brownlee 1-6, 81-Cruz 1-6, 53-Theysen 1-5, 49-Gremaud 1-4, 58-Torres 1-1; P 49-Bisterfeldt 1-13, 25-Morris 1-2
Punters: V 45-Reynoso 5-39.8 avg; P 8-Hernandez 4-42.5 avg
Kick Returns: V 1-Cravr 1-36, 19-Dunn 1-27; P 3-Simpson 2-39, 24-Peters 1-25, 34-Jones 1-1
Punt Returns: V 9-Howard 2-63; P 3-Simpson 1-(-5)
Misc Returns: V none; P 3-Simpson 1-23 (return of blocked field goal)
Missed FG: V 34-Luna 45 yds (blocked by 44-Faleofa); P none
Notes: Both teams entered 2-2; Ventura was ranked #16 and Pasadena was ranked #18 in the South. Koman started at QB for Ventura. Howard's 43-yd punt return set up Ventura's 1st FG. 8-Holloway caused the fumble McGuire returned for Ventura's 1st TD. A fake punt play (29-yd pass to Simpson) kept Pasadena's 1st TD drive alive. Smith took over at QB for Ventura on the last series of the 1st half, at which point Ventura had 2 first downs. Gremaud snatched the ball out of Bonsu's hands for his pick six. Pasadena tried a trick play for the 2-pt conversion on which Owens threw a pass to Hernandez, but Ventura tackled Hernandez well short of the goal line. Ventura's last TD came on a 9-play drive (7 rushes by Caro, one on 4th down by Barnes) following Murray's interception. Pasadena leads the all-time series, 24-10-2, but Ventura has won the last 3 years.