With a standing room only crowd (on the home side of the field, anyway) and several local dignitaries on hand, and a flyover before the game, the mood was festive despite a strong wind blustering from south to north for most of the game. Whether it was the wind, or the Ventura defense, or most likely a combination of both, the AVC offense never got untracked and the Pirates pulled away in the second half for the win.
Actually, neither team showed much on offense in the first half. Ventura held the ball for over 23 of the 30 minutes, but had nothing to show for all that except for a pair of field goals by Tyler Stampler. The first, a 38-yarder into the teeth of that wind, came after Power's fumble recovery on AVC's first offensive play of the game. The second, a 53-yarder with the wind behind him, came after AVC's Tramel Joiner had intercepted a Gregory Jimenez pass only to fumble the ball away at the end of the return.
Still, despite tallying just one first down in the first half on offense, AVC held a 7-6 lead at intermission thanks to its defense. Midway through the second quarter, linebacker Deron Gray sacked Jimenez from behind and knocked the ball free. Defensive end Mike Miller scooped up the ball and carried it 64 yards for the touchdown to account for AVC's only touchdown of the night.
In the third quarter, however, Ventura got a pair of touchdowns to take what turned out to be a commanding lead. AVC got the ball to start the second half and drove into Ventura territory only to lose possession when Powers intercepted a Josh Firm pass and return it 9 yards to the Pirate 33. Then Ventura put together what would be the only sustained drive of the night for either team that ended with a touchdown, an 11-play, 67-yard march that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Antavius Sims. Stampler's extra point made it 13-7 Ventura.
Ventura lengthened its lead at the end of the next Antelope Valley offensive series. After gaining one first down, AVC faced 4th and 15 and had to punt. But Ventura's Max Morten broke in from the left end of the defensive front and blocked Armando Quintero's punt, sending the ball bouncing into the AVC end zone. Valtray Jackson fell on the ball for the touchdown, extending Ventura's lead to 20-7 with 3:55 left in the third quarter.
AVC crept a little closer early in the fourth quarter, thanks entirely to its defense. First, with Ventura facing 3rd and long, linebacker Chasman Davis blitzed and forced Jimenez into an intentional grounding penalty at his own 3 on the final play of the third quarter. Then on the first play of the fourth quarter, Reynoso stood with his heels just inside the back line of the end zone. But the punt snap was well to his right, and as he struggled to gather the ball, he both stepped on the end line and dropped the ball over the line, resulting in a safety for AVC that made the score 20-9.
AVC took the free kick and after a 22-yard pass from Firm to Ronald Pigee entered Ventura territory. The drive stalled there, and AVC had to punt, but Quintero pinned Ventura deep. Then three plays later, AVC's David Green intercepted a Jimenez pass at the Ventura 20. That opportunity came to naught when, two plays later, Nixon intercepted a Firm pass at the Pirate 3. But three plays after that, Ventura was still pinned deep in its own territory and faced 3rd and 10 from its 3. Kraig McPherson took the handoff, but he never had a chance as he was met immediately by Chris Whitney, who tackled him in the end zone for a safety, making it 20-11 with 10:09 left.
AVC got the ball four more times after that, but could never get any closer. After taking the free kick, the Marauders failed to gain a single yard and had to punt. Then after a Ventura punt, AVC drove to the Ventura 41, but turned the ball over on downs with 5:55 left. AVC got the ball back deep in its own end with 4:02 left, but Nixon intercepted a Firm pass on the next play and returned it to the Marauder 12. Two plays later, Sims scored on a 4-yard run to put Ventura ahead, 27-11, and clinch the win for the Pirates.
All of the standouts in this game were on the defensive side of the ball, as the defenses and special teams combined for 18 of the game's 38 points and set up 13 more with turnovers. The Ventura defense held AVC to just 94 yards of offense, including minus-5 yards on the ground. Yet the AVC defense was just as good, holding Ventura to just 249 yards of total offense and 98 yards on 51 rushing attempts despite spending most of the evening on the field as Ventura held the ball for more than 38 minutes and ran 83 plays (compared to 51 offensive plays for AVC).
Despite the outcome, it was a glorious night for AVC as its beautiful new stadium was unveiled. Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Perris, local State Senator George Runner and longtime AVC coach Brent Carder were among those honored before the game, with Carder cutting the ribbon to open the new field. Then there was a flyover by a jet aircraft, courtesy of nearby Edwards Air Force Base.
Ventura Pirates 27
Antelope Valley Marauders 11
Saturday, September 12, 2009 - 7 pm - the New Marauder Stadium - Lancaster
V - FG Stampler 38 yds 9:17 (3-0)
AV - Miller 64 yd fumble return (Royce kick) 5:17 (3-7)
V - FG Stampler 53 yds 0:33.8 (6-7)
V - Sims 1 yd run (Stampler kick) 6:27 (13-7)
V - V.Jackson recovered blocked punt in end zone (Stampler kick) 3:55 (20-7)
AV - Safety - punt snap fumbled out of end zone 14:53 (9-20)
AV - Safety - McPherson tackled in end zone 10:09 (11-20)
V - Sims 4 yd run (Stampler kick) 2:59 (27-11)
First Downs: Antelope Valley 9 (3 rush, 5 pass, 1 penalty), Ventura 19 (8 rush, 10 pass, 1 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Antelope Valley 18-(-5); Ventura 51-98
Passing Yds: Antelope Valley 99, Ventura 159
Comp-Att-Int: Antelope Valley 10-33-3, Ventura 17-32-3
Return Yds: Antelope Valley 232, Ventura 71
Sacks-Yds: Antelope Valley 2-22, Ventura 4-22
Fumbles-Lost: Antelope Valley 2-2, Ventura 4-1
Penalties-Yds: Antelope Valley 4-34, Ventura 6-36
Time of Possession: Antelope Valley 21:01, Ventura 38:59
Rushing: AV 5-Whitson 10-20, 41-Blake 1-2, 25-Teasley 1-0, 1-Burke 1-(-3), 2-Firm 4-(-22), team 1-(-2); V 34-Morris 16-48, 6-Sims 7-30, 21-McPherson 11-18, 7-Parham 2-10, 22-Stewart 1-7, 89-Shelton 1-7, 2-Diaz 1-5, 13-Davis 2-1, 42, Morten 1-1, 5-Trueblood 1-0, 12-Jimenez 6-(-17), team 2-(-12)
Passing: AV 2-Firm 10-33-3-99; V 12-Jimenez 17-32-3
Receiving: AV 12-Pigee 2-31, 1-Burke 2-16, 16-Mims 2-7, 17-Wells 1-17, 18-Starnes 1-12, 29-Mattox 1-11, 38-Bradford 1-5; V 1-Hebert 4-25, 11-Gunter 3-32, 4-Washington 3-20, 3-Karam 2-42, 89-Shelton 2-18, 7-Parham 1-17, 2-Diaz 1-5, 22-Stewart 1-0
Interceptions-Ret Yds: AV 14-Green 1-0, 15-Joiner 1-14, 26-McGowan 1-19; V 5-Nixon 2-12, 17-Powers 1-9
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: AV 93-Miller 1-64; V 17-Powers 1-0, ??? 1-0
Sacks-Yds: AV C.Davis 1-11, 95-Gray 1-11; VC 27-Daley 2-15, 9-Vacchio 1-5, 5-Nixon 1-2
Punters: AV 98-Quintero 7-34.4 avg + 1 blk; V 45-Reynoso 4-39.0 avg
Kick Returns: AV 22-Anderson 6-119, 16-Mims 1-16; V 3-Karam 1-14, 89-Shelton 1-13
Punt Returns: AV none; V 42-Morten 1-22, 3-Karam 2-5, 5-Nixon 1-(-4)
Notes: Grand Opening! This was the first game in the new, rebuilt Marauder Stadium! Antelope Valley entered 0-1 while Ventura entered 1-0 and ranked #15 in the South. The defenses controlled the game all night. Ventura’s 1st FG came after Powers’ fumble recovery. Gray’s sack caused the fumble Miller returned for AVC’s TD. Joiner intercepted a Jimenez pass but fumbled at the end of his return; Ventura fumbled, and Stampler’s 2nd FG (with a good wind behind him) followed. Morten blocked the punt that Jackson recovered for VC’s 2nd TD. C. Davis’ sack came on an intentional grounding penalty that pinned VC at its own 3; two plays later came the safety when Reynoso couldn’t handle a wide snap and dropped the ball on the back line. AVC’s 2nd safety came when 7-Whitney tackled McPherson for a 3-yd loss in the end zone. VC’s final clinching touchdown came after Nixon’s 2nd interception, which he returned to the AVC 12. Ventura now leads the series, 10-4, all-time and has won the last 3 meetings.