Omar Herrera passed for 402 yards for El Camino, but his final attempt of the night, a would-be game-winning 3-yard touchdown pass, was swatted away by Ventura's Jordan Howard at the goal line on the final play of the game. That came one play after Luckner Brady caught a pass from Herrera across the goal line, only to be ruled out of bounds on the sideline by the officials with 4 seconds left in the game.
El Camino (8-2, 3-2) could have all but guaranteed itself not only a playoff berth but in all likelihood a home game with a win. Instead, the Warriors must now travel to two-time defending state and national champion Mt. San Antonio next Saturday for its first-round playoff game.
Ventura (6-4, 3-2) jumped out to a 17-0 lead, never trailed, and held a 31-13 lead with less than eight minutes to go. But El Camino had two chances to win late. The first ended when Scotty Wong made a diving catch to intercept Herrera with 2:56 left. Then when the El Camino defense forced a Ventura punt, the Warrior offense got the ball back with 1:51 left at its own 32, leading to the final play by Howard at the goal line.
For much of the night, Ventura feasted on El Camino mistakes to take a big lead. The Pirates got a field goal on their first drive of the night. On the ensuing kickoff, Brian Coman stripped return man Jeremi Anderson of the ball, and Kenjay Trueblood recovered for Ventura at the Warrior 20. On the next play, Chase Smith threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Tim Vizzi to make it 10-0. And it could have gotten worse for Ventura as Mike Campbell intercepted Herrera's first pass of the night, giving the Pirates the ball once more. But the Warrior defense forced a three-and-out, keeping it a 10-point game.
Ventura pushed the lead to 17-0 five minutes into the second quarter when Dezerick Reed broke through several Warrior would-be tacklers and sped away for a 53-yard touchdown run. El Camino answered with an 11-play, 67-yard drive to get on the board on Herrera's 12-yard touchdown pass to Brady, and the Warrior defense forced a Ventura punt. But then Masi Tuitama intercepted Herrera at the Warrior 37 and returned it all the way for a pick-six, making it 24-7 with 1:03 left in the first half.
El Camino got a little closer late in the half, sparked by a 39-yard pass from Herrera to Brady that got the Warriors to the Ventura 22. Three plays later, Herrera threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Anderson with 24 seconds left in the half to make it 24-13. But the extra point was wide left, keeping it an 11-point game at the half.
Ventura scored the only points of the third quarter, taking advantage of another El Camino mistake when Jarrad Shaw muffed a punt. Jordan Bricker recovered the bouncing ball for Ventura at the El Camino 12, and two plays later Reed scored on a 1-yard run to make it 31-13 with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
Neither team scored after that until Herrera threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jahrie Level with 7:53 left to make it 31-19. The Warriors, who had eschewed a short field goal on its previous drive, only to be stopped on 4th down at the Ventura 1, tried for two points on the conversion. Ventura's Daniel Miller knocked down Herrera's pass attempt, keeping it 31-19. Those four points - the short field goal and the extra point kick - that El Camino elected to forego would prove decisive later in the game.
Ventura threatened to run out the clock, and seemed in a position to do so when Reed broke free for a long gain into El Camino territory. But as he made the tackle, El Camino's Derek Largent stripped the ball away, and Marques Johnson recovered for the Warriors at the El Camino 46 with 6:51 left. That led to another El Camino touchdown, with Herrera throwing a 33-yard scoring toss to Brady with 5:46 left. The Warriors lined up as if to kick the extra point, but erstwhile holder Ron Clark instead ran the ball across the goal line for a two-point conversion that made it 31-27 with 5:46 to go.
El Camino forced a three-and-out by Ventura, getting the ball back at its 43 with 4:02 left. But then came Wong's diving interception at the Pirate 30. However, Ventura again went three-and-out, giving El Camino the ball back with 1:51 left and 68 yards to cover. That proved to be 3 yards too many for the Warriors, thanks to the sideline in the end zone and Howards's goal-line swat.
For Ventura, Reed had a game-high 130 yards rushing on 15 carries and two touchdowns, leading a Ventura rushing attack that totaled 226 yards for the night. Smith completed 5 of 11 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, but had no turnovers. Reed's fumble was the only turnover for the game for Ventura, and the 6-1 turnover margin proved to be decisive for the Pirates.
For El Camino, Herrera completed 30 of 50 passes for 402 yards, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Brady had a huge night with 9 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and Anderson had 5 catches for 125 yards and a score. Peter Walton rushed for 69 yards on 12 carries. The El Camino offense gained 495 yards and 26 first downs on the night, though they also had 4 turnovers, in addition to two more turnovers by return men on special teams.
Ventura Pirates 31
El Camino Warriors 27
Saturday, November 12, 2011 - 6 pm - Murdock Stadium, Torrance
National Division - North Conference
V - FG Luna 35 yds 8:14 (3-0)
V - Vizzi 20 yd pass from C.Smith (Luna kick) 7:59 (10-0)
V - Reed 53 yd run (Luna kick) 10:00 (17-0)
EC - Brady 12 yd pass from Herrera (Jarrin kick) 3:57 (17-7)
V - Tuitama 37 yd interception return (Luna kick) 1:03 (24-7)
EC - Anderson 22 yd pass from Herrera (kick wide left) 0:24 (24-13)
V - Reed 1 yd run (Luna kick) 5:14 (31-13)
EC - Level 5 yd pass from Herrera (pass failed) 7:53 (31-19)
EC - Brady 33 yd pass from Herrera (Clark run) 5:46 (31-27)
First Downs: El Camino 26 (6 rush, 19 pass, 1 penalty), Ventura 12 (9 rush, 3 pass)
Rushes-Yds: El Camino 24-93, Ventura 49-226
Passing Yds: El Camino 402, Ventura 57
Comp-Att-Int: El Camino 30-51-3, Ventura 5-11-0
Return Yds: El Camino 86, Ventura 147
Sacks-Yds: El Camino 1-9, Ventura 3-10
Fumbles-Lost: El Camino 6-3, Ventura 2-1
Penalties-Yds: El Camino 6-45, Ventura 5-25
Time of Possession: El Camino 28:25, Ventura 31:35
Rushing: E 6-Walton 12-69, 43-Capacchione 2-12, 11-Herrera 7-6, 54-McCoy 0-4, 34-A.Johnson 3-2; V 22-Reed 15-130, 5-C.Smith 8-42, 27-Caro 14-35, 30-Barnes 10-24, 9-Howard 2-(-5)
Passing: E 11-Herrera 30-50-3-402, 4 TDs; team 0-1-0-0; V 5-C.Smith 5-11-0-57
Receiving: E 47-Brady 9-168, 4-Shaw 6-51, 17-Anderson 5-125, 18-Level 5-38, 89-Bierra 2-16, 34-A.Johnson 2-9, 6-Walton 1-(-5); V 32-Vizzi 1-20, 13-Rodarte 1-18, 84-Tyaylor 1-15, 2-Nixon 1-3, 9-Howard 1-1
Interceptions-Ret Yds: E none; V 31-Tuitama 1-37, 40-Wong 1-0, 42-Cmapbell 1-0
Fumble Rec: E 95-M.Johnson; V 23-Trueblood, 31-Tuitama, 86-Bricker
Sacks-Yds: E 36-McLennan 1-9; V 94-Miller 1-4, 99-Rhodes 1-4, 56-Brownlee 1-2
Punters: E 41-Gudmunson 3-39.7 avg; V 45-Reynoso 7-38.3 avg
Kick Returns: E 17-Anderson 3-49, 92-Sekona 2-24; V 9-Howard 4-111
Punt Returns: E 4-Shaw 3-13; V 9-Howard 1-(-1)
Missed FG: E none; V 34-Luna 27 yds (wide right), 32 yds (blocked)
Notes: UPSET! El Camino entered 8-1, #3 in South and #11 in the nation; Ventura entered 5-4, #10 in South. 28-Coman forced an Anderson fumble on the kickoff after Ventura's FG and Trueblood recovered, setting up VC's 1st TD. Luna's 2nd missed FG was low and into the line but 9-Tavai appeared to knock it down. Shaw's punt muff was recovered by Bricker at the El Camino 12, setting up VC's last TD. Rhodes' sack forced the fumble that Tuitama recovered. Miller knocked down the pass attempt on El Camino's failed 2-pt conversion try. Ventura was trying to run out the clock but 10-Largent stripped Reed of the ball and M.Johnson recovered, leading to El Camino's last TD. El Camino got the ball back with 4:02 left, but Wong's interception with 2:56 left gave Ventura the ball. But VC had to punt, giving El Camino the ball with 1:51 left. El Camino drove to the Ventura 3. Brady caught the ball across the goal line but was ruled out of bounds on the game's second-to-last play. Then Herrera's last pass was batted down at the goal line by Howard as the clock ran out. This was probably the final game at venerable Murdock Stadium, which is slated for a major remodeling in the off-season.