Quarterbacks Ty Gangi and Devon Dunn each passed for well over 400 yards, but Chris Beeson's 24-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left proved to be the difference as Ventura outlasted Canyons, 54-48, in a key National Division North Conference showdown Saturday in Santa Clarita.
It was a wild and crazy game and, combined with first-place Cerritos losing in double overtime later in the day – brings chaos to the National-North. With just two games left on the schedule, there are now three teams basically tied atop the conference with one loss apiece as Cerritos is 4-1 and both Canyons and Ventura are 3-1 in conference play.
Saturday, the teams scored and scored again, combining for 1147 yards of offense, 13 touchdowns and 102 points. Ventura saw two different 14-point leads wiped out. Canyons scored three touchdowns in the first five minutes to take its only lead of the game, only to see Ventura rally with two touchdowns in the final 8:47 to come away with the win.
Ventura (5-3, 3-1) set the tone for the day, taking the opening kickoff and driving 89 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown when Gangi threw a 35-yard scoring pass to Joey Word. Canyons (6-2, 3-1) answered with a 90-yard drive, tying the score 7-7 when Kenny Torrence scored the first of his three touchdowns on the day on a 1-yard run midway through the first quarter.
Ventura took a 14-7 lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Gangi to Cam Taylor and, after a Canyons punt, increased its lead when Gangi scored on a 1-yard keeper to make it 21-7. Torrence scored on another short run to bring Canyons within seven points at 21-14. Then each team got two field goals in the final 7:32 of the second quarter, leaving Ventura holding a 27-20 advantage at the half.
Canyons took the second half kickoff and drove the length of the field to tie the score, with Torrence scoring again on another short run 5:04 into the third quarter to make it 27-27. But Ventura answered with a quick, 6-play drive, going back in front on Beeson's 8-yard scoring run just 2:17 later. And after another Canyons punt – COC's second and final one of the game – Gangi threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Riley Smith to give the Pirates their second 14-point lead of the game at 41-27.
Ten seconds into the fourth quarter, Dunn threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Conner Byrnes for the first of the three quick Canyons touchdowns. On the ensuing kickoff, return man Ronald Washington fumbled, and David Wilder recovered for the Cougars at the Pirate 43. Three plays later Dunn threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chauncey Werah, tying the score at 41 with 13:38 left. Then after a Ventura punt – the Pirates' only punt of the game – Canyons took its first – and only – lead of the game when Dunn lofted a 59-yard touchdown pass to Werah with 10:09 left.
That Cougar lead lasted just 1:24 however, as Ventura needed just five plays and a penalty to tie the score. Gangi's 1-yard touchdown pass to Taylor came one play after a 38-yard pass to Taylor and evened the score at 48 with 8:47 remaining in the game.
Canyons got the ball back on the kickoff and drove to the Ventura 16 on its next drive. But a 5-yard loss on a run play pushed the ball back to the 21, and an incomplete pass on the next play forced the Cougars to try for the go-ahead field goal. Alec Chadwick's kick, however, was low enough that it failed to clear Ventura's Tre Haynes, a 6-4, 328-pound mountain in the middle of the line. The blocked field goal with 4:25 left kept the score tied at 48.
Ventura took over at its own 25 and needed just seven plays to re-take the lead, with Beeson scoring on a 24-yard run to make it 54-48. The extra point, however, was ruined with a low snap, and the kick sailed below the crossbar, giving Canyons the hope it could not only rally but even snatch the victory with one last touchdown drive.
But with the game – and the chances of staying in the National-North conference race on the line – the Ventura defense stepped up. On first down pass rusher Mark Zavala got to Dunn, knocking the ball free as he tackled the COC quarterback. Offensive lineman Linwood Foy recovered the loose ball for the Cougars, but Dunn injured his shoulder on the play and had to leave the game. Backup Matthew Moore – not the current Miami Dolphin who played HS football on the COC field while at Hart HS, but a freshman from California City who had yet to play Saturday – entered the game. Vut after two incomplete passes sandwiched around a 4-yard scramble the rally was over, and Ventura had the 54-48 win.
For Ventura, Gangi completed 35 of 54 passes for 439 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. His top target was Taylor, who had 10 catches for 143 yards and 2 scores, while Jordan Nunnery had 7 catches for 91 yards. In all, 11 different Pirates caught at least one pass. Beeson finished with 19 carries for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns, one of which proved to be the difference in the game. And Haynes had perhaps the most important play of the game with his blocked field goal, keeping the game tied before Ventura's final scoring drive.
For Canyons, Dunn completed 29 of 42 passes for 469 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Nicholas Jones had game-highs of 11 catches for 186 yards, and Werah had 7 catches for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns. Torrence carried the ball 20 times for 62 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Amazingly, the offenses combined for 165 plays without a turnover and 99 passes without an interception (though Ventura's Ereck Wilson Jr. seemed to have one in the first half, only to be ruled out of bounds on a close play). The only turnover of the game came on special teams.
With the win, Ventura now joins Canyons and Cerritos in the National-North race, with each team having just one loss in conference play. Ventura travels up the coast next Saturday to take on Allan Hancock, while Canyons finishes its home schedule with a 1 pm game against Moorpark.
Ventura Pirates 54, Canyons Cougars 48
Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 1 pm @ Cougar Stadium, Santa Clarita
National Division – North Conference
V – Word 35 yd pass from Gangi (Lanski kick) 11:32 (7-0)
C – Torrence 2 yd run (Chadwick kick) 7:17 (7-7)
V – Taylor 4 yd pass from Gangi (Lanski kick) 2:32 (14-7)
V – Gangi 1 yd run (Lanski kick) 14:02 (21-7)
C – Torrence 1 yd run (Chadwick kick) 12:04 (21-14)
V – FG Lanski 33 yds 7:32 (24-14)
C – FG Chadwick 24 yds 2:24 (24-17)
C – FG Chadwick 48 yds 0:38 (24-20)
V – FG Lanski 19 yds 0:00 (27-20)
C – Torrence 1 yd run (Chadwick kick) 9:56 (27-27)
V – Beeson 8 yd run (Lanski kick) 7:39 (34-27)
V – R.Smith 3 yd pass from Gangi (Lanski kick) 5:00 (41-27)
C – Byrnes 5 yd pass from Dunn (Chadwick kick) 14:50 (41-34)
C – Werah 7 yd pass from Dunn (Chadwick kick) 13:38 (41-41)
C – Werah 59 yd pass from Dunn (Chadwick kick) 10:09 (48-41)
V – Taylor 1 yd pass from Gangi (Lanski kick) 8:47 (48-48)
V – Beeson 24 yd run (kick low) 1:19 (54-48)
First Downs: Canyons 27 (6 rush, 17 pass, 4 penalty), Ventura 37 (9 rush, 22 pass, 6 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Canyons 36-86, Ventura 30-153
Passing Yds: Canyons 469, Ventura 439
Comp-Att-Int: Canyons 29-45-0, Ventura 35-54-0
Return Yds: Canyons 77, Ventura 172
Sacks-Yds: Canyons 0-0, Ventura 2-11
Fumbles-Lost: Canyons 1-0, Ventura 2-1
Penalties-Yds: Canyons 9-67, Ventura 10-72
Time of Possession: Canyons 33:25, Ventura 26:35
Rushing: C 20-Kenny Torrence 20-62, 10-Dunn 11-14, 11-Werah 1-7, 18-Moore 1-4, 26-Logan 2-2, 12-Byrnes 1-(-3); V 3-Chris Beeson 19-92, 12-Gangi 7-51, 10-Mann 1-5, 2-Nunnery 1-3, 23-Word 1-3, team 1-(-1)
Passing: C 10-Devon Dunn 29-42-0-469, 3 TDs; 18-Moore 0-2-0-0; 12-Byrnes 0-1-0-0; V 12-Ty Gangi 35-54-0-439, 4 TDs
Receiving: C 81-Nicholas Jones 11-186, 11-Chauncey Werah 7-117, 12-Conner Byrnes 5-89, 7-French 2-17, 48-Davenport 1-29, 4-Foster 1-20, 26-Logan 1-6, 16-Overstreet 1-5; 11-Cam Taylor 10-143, 2-Jordan Nunnery 7-91, 6-Rodriguez 4-39, 34-Hays 3-25, 18-Pride 2-35, 15-Blake-Smith 2-20, 17-Bray 2-18, 10-Mann 2-16, 23-Word 1-35, 3-Beeson 1-14, 4-R.Smith 1-3
Interceptions-Ret Yds: none
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: C 9-Wilder 1-0; V none
Sacks: C none; V 10-Striggles 1-6, 56-Zavala 1-5
Punters: C 31-McKinney 2-40.0 avg; V 80-Diorio 1-57
Kick Returns: C 13-Williams 3-57, 11-Werah 1-17, 26-Logan 1-3; V 8-Washington 5-167
Punt Returns: C none; V 2-Nunnery 1-3, 9-Daggett 1-2
Missed FG: C 39-Chadwick 38 yds (blocked); V none
Notes: Both teams are now 3-1 in the National-North, a half-game behind Cerritos (4-1). Ventura entered ranked #9-National and improves to 5-3 overall; Canyons entered ranked #4-National and #25 in the nation (JCFootball.com). Wilder's fumble recovery came on the kickoff return after COC's 4th TD and helped set up the tying TD. Canyons' FGA came with 4:25 left and the score tied 48-48; 55-Haynes blocked the kick for Ventura. VC then drove for the winning TD. COC had one last chance but Zavala sacked Dunn and knocked the ball loose; 77-Foy recovered the ball for COC but Dunn left with an apparent shoulder injury and three plays later COC turned the ball over on downs. COC still leads the all-time series, 17-10, but VC has won the last 2 meetings.