It was a wild game that featured four lead changes, eight turnovers, 29 penalties and more than 900 yards of offense. Ventura (7-0, 3-0 in the National Division, Northern Conference) saw Canyon overcome an early 13-0 hold and faced a 27-23 halftime deficit. Then after Feathers put the Pirates on top early in the fourth quarter, the Pirate defense saved the game by forcing three Canyons turnovers in the final nine-plus minutes.
Feathers, a 6-2, 225-pound Fresno State bounceback, broke a 30-30 tie with a 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper with 2:23 left in the third quarter to cap a 9-play, 82-yard drive. Then after a Canyons punt, Feathers capped an 8-play 75-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Anderson with exactly 13 minutes left to make it 44-30, seemingly finally putting Ventura in control of the game.
But on this night, nothing was that easy for either team. Canyons answered with a quick, 7-play drive, cutting the margin to a single touchdown when Kasdorf, who threw for 499 yards last week in a 62-61 double-overtime win at Antelope Valley, threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kwasi Washington with 11:18 left. Kasdorf kept the drive moving with three long runs before throwing his third touchdown pass of the game.
The Pirate defense, however, made sure Canyons (2-5, 1-2) never got any closer. After a Ventura punt, the Cougars got the ball at their 36 with 9:21 left, but on the next play Jordan Howard intercepted a Kasdorf pass at the Pirate 30. After another Ventura punt, Canyons drove deep into Pirate territory but Lakeith Murray intercepted a Kasdorf pass in the end zone with 4:46 left. Then after yet another Pirate punt, Canyons got the ball back with 1:34 left. But after Kasdorf completed a short pass to Tim White, the Pirates stripped the ball loose and Scotty Wong recovered the fumble with 51 seconds left, finally assuring Ventura of the victory.
All that was just the final chapter of a game that featured plenty of points, penalties, turnovers and more than a bit of the unexpected from start to finish. This despite Ventura entering with a #2 ranking in the South and being ranked #6 in the nation, while the Cougars entered with a 2-4 record and seemed headed for a second straight losing season, something that had never even happened once since the program was resurrected in 1998 until last year.
Canyons started the game with turnovers on its first two possessions. A fumble at midfield ended its first drive - Ventura's P.J. Gremaud was the last man out of the pile and the most likely candidate to have recovered the fumble - and an interception by Gremaud that he returned to the Cougar 45 ended the second just 4:10 into the game. But both Ventura chances ended in punts. And Canyons drove deep into Pirate territory on its third possession, reaching the Ventura 20 before having to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt that was unsuccessful.
Then moments later Ventura had a lead. Willie Willis caught a short pass from Feathers and sped through the Cougar defense for an electrifying 80-yard touchdown play to give the Pirates a 7-0 advantage.
And the Pirate defense forced a Cougar punt, which was nearly blocked and ended up bouncing after traveling about 20 yards into Ventura territory. Howard picked the bouncing ball and returned it near midfield, when he lost it. Jeffery Williams picked up the ball in stride for Ventura and carried it another 11 yards to the Cougar 30.
After that bit of good fortune, Feathers capitalized on the chance by throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Victor Caro to make it 13-0. But on the extra point try, the kick was blocked, and Canyons' Jesse Sampson corralled the bouncing ball and returned it past midfield in a bid for a 2-point conversion before he was finally stopped.
Then Canyons struck quickly to take a lead. Kasdorf directed a 6-play, 66-yard drive and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Washington to make it 13-7. On the ensuing kickoff, Michael Chenault tried a pooch kick and COC's Ron Clark recovered the ball at the 46. Three plays later, Kasdorf threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Drew Phillips, and Neil Franklin's successful extra point gave the Cougars a 14-13 lead just 46 seconds into the second quarter.
Canyons tried another pooch kick on its next kickoff, but this time Ventura recovered at the Pirate 42. That led to a short drive by the Pirates, who took the lead on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Feathers to Dylan McDaniel with 11:48 left in the half.
Ventura added a 29-yard field goal from Carlos Luna following Gremaud's second interception later in the quarter to make it 23-14 with 5:27 left in the half.
Canyons, however, struck for two touchdowns in the final 3:17 to take a 27-23 lead at intermission. Big Andre Davis powered through the pile for a 5-yard touchdown run for the first, capping a drive that started with a 46-yard pass from Kasdorf to Matt Szymanski. Then after a Ventura punt, Earl Johnson capped a 9-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds left in the half to make it 27-23.
The Cougar lead lasted just 13 seconds into the second half, however. Howard took the second half kickoff and returned it 93 yards up the left sideline to give Ventura a 30-27 lead.
Canyons capitalized on a Ventura mistake to tie the game midway through the third quarter. The Pirates lined up to punt, but the long snap seemed to graze one of the up-men and fall to the turf long before reaching the punter. Whether it was a bad snap or a botched fake punt play, COC's Nathan Mitogo recovered the ball, setting up a 23-yard field goal by Franklin that tied the score at 30 with 6:45 left in the third quarter.
Feathers finished 22 of 35 passing for the night for 297 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for one touchdown. He threw to ten different receivers, with Chase Smith and Kendall Worth catching 5 passes each. Caro led Pirate rushers with 51 yards on 13 carries but was carried from the field with an apparent left knee injury late in the game.
For Canyons, Kasdorf put on a performance reminiscent of Hall of Famer George Blanda from his AFL Houston Oiler days. The 6-1 freshman finished 26 for 56 for 374 yards, 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions passing while also rushing for 112 yards on 11 carries to lead all ground gainers. Washington caught 7 of those passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns. White lead all receivers with 109 yards on 5 catches, though ironically on the play that got him past the 100-yard mark he also lost the ball and Ventura recovered to clinch the win. Then again a turnover on a play that also gained significant yardage seems the only appropriate way for this game to have ended.
Ventura Pirates 44, Canyons Cougars 37
Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 7 pm - Cougar Stadium, Santa Clarita
National Division - North Conference
V - Willis 80 yd pass from Feathers (Luna kick) 5:26 (7-0)
V - Caro 7 yd pass from Feathers (kick blocked) 2:08 (13-0)
C - Washington 17 yd pass from Kasdorf (Franklin kick) 0:00 (13-7)
C - Phillips 7 yd pass from Kasdorf (Franklin kick) 14:14 (13-14)
V - McDaniel 21 yd pass from Feathers (Luna kick) 11:48 (20-14)
V - FG Luna 29 yd 5:27 (23-14)
C - Davis 5 yd run (Franklin kick) 3:17 (23-20)
C - Johnson 5 yd run (kick blocked) 0:11 (23-27)
V - Howard 93 yd kickoff return (Luna kick) 14:47 (30-27)
C - FG Franklin 23 yds 6:45 (30-30)
V - Feathers 1 yd run (Luna kick) 2:23 (37-30)
V - Anderson 13 yd pass from Feathers (Luna kick) 13:00 (44-30)
C - Washington 18 yd pass from Kasdorf (Franklin kick) 11:18 (44-37)
First Downs: Canyons 33 (10 rush, 17 pass, 6 penalty), Ventura 17 (4 rush, 11 pass, 4 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Canyons 33-173, Ventura 37-69
Passing Yds: Canyons 374, Ventura 297
Comp-Att-Int: Canyons 26-56-4, Ventura 22-35-0
Return Yds: Canyons 161, Ventura 210
Sacks-Yds: Canyons 1-8, Ventura 0-0
Fumbles-Lost: Canyons 2-2, Ventura 3-2
Penalties-Yds: Canyons 14-97, Ventura 15-142
Time of Possession: Canyons 29:29, Ventura 30:31
Rushing: C 7-Kasdorf 11-112, 32-Johnson 11-30, 28-Phillips 7-17, 33-Garba 2-10, 35-Davis 2-4; V 27-Caro 13-51, 25-Erege 5-19, 7-Feathers 5-8, 5-Smith 2-6, 32-D.Williams 3-6, 21-Worth 2-3, 8-Cuthbertson 1-2, 13-Willis 3-(-1), team 3-(-25)
Passing: C 7-Kasdorf 26-56-4-374, 3 TDs; V 7-Feathers 22-35-0-297, 4 TDs
Receiving: C 23-Washington 7-87, 6-White 5-109, 2-Szymanski 3-59, 28-Phillips 3-20, 21-Drozdowski 2-34, 88-Vear 2-24, 32-Johnson 2-10, 85-Feyh 1-16, 16-Graves 1-15; V 5-Smith 5-54, 21-Worth 5-47, 6-McDaniel 3-52, 27-Caro 2-14, 35-Marshall 2-5, 13-Willis 1-80, 84-McNair 1-21, 8-Cuthbertson 1-13, 83-Anderson 1-13, 81-Morten 1-(-3)
Sacks-Yds: C 53-Guy 1-8; V none
Interceptions-Ret Yds: C none; V 53-Gremaud 2-31, 4-Murray 1-0, 9-Howard 1-0
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: C 5-Clark 1-0, 90-Mitogo 1-0; V 20-Wong 1-0, 53-Gremaud 1-0
Punters: C 83-Wikler 3-30.7 avg; V 1-Luna 6-37.0 avg; 7-Feathers 1-27
Kick Returns: C 28-Phillips 6-125, 23-Washington 1-18; V 9-Howard 4-146, team 1-0
Punt Returns: C 5-Clark 2-18; V 9-Howard 1-22, 14-J.Williams 0-11
Missed FG: C 82-Franklin 37 yds (wide right)
Notes: Ventura entered ranked #2 in the South and #6 in the nation (JC Grid-Wire) and improves to 7-0 overall (equaling the best start in school history) and 3-0 in the National-North. Canyons falls to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in conference. What a wild game! Caro's TD came after a crazy punt return on which Howard fumbled and Williams picked up the ball and carried it another 11 yards. Canyons tried an onsides kick after Washington's 1st TD and Clark recovered. Canyons tried another after Phillips' TD but Ventura recoverd. Luna's FG came after Gremaud's 2nd interception. Franklin's FG came after a botched Ventura punt that might have been a fake; Mitogo recovered the loose ball for Canyons. COC had 3 chances to tie but the 3 drives ended with interceptions by Howard and Murray (in the end zone) and a fumble by White that Wong recovered with 51 seconds left. Canyons still leads the all-time series, 16-8.