The Ventura defense did the rest, holding Canyons to just 8 first downs and keeping the Cougars scoreless until the final three minutes of the game.
Ventura took a 7-0 lead in the first minutes of the game, following the first of seven Canyons fumbles (five of which were recovered by Ventura), and never led the Cougars catch up. Ventura's second touchdown came after a long punt return, making it 14-0 before the end of the first quarter. Stampler added a field goal in each of the final three quarters. And the defense held the Cougars in check, threatening to shut them out for the first time since the COC program was reinstated in 1998.
Canyons began making mistakes almost from the beginning of the game, and never really stopped. Quarterback Eric Brown lost the ball at the end of the first play from scrimmage, but was ruled down by the officials. On the next play, however, he again lost the ball, and this time Loren Powers recovered for Ventura at the Cougar 19. A 17-yard pass from Sims to Raphael Washington got the ball to the Canyons 2. Then on the next play, Morris followed 6-8, 330-pound right tackle James Nelson into the end zone for a touchdown just 58 seconds into the game.
Canyons' second offensive possession lasted a little longer, with the Cougars reaching the Ventura 40, but ended the same way with Brown fumbled and John Lattimore recovered for the Pirates. Ventura drove to the Canyons 16 but came away empty when a fake field goal play was stopped. But the Pirate defense soon forced a Cougar punt. Nick Karam, who had been stopped short on the fake field goal play, took the punt at his own 38 and returned it 47 yards down the left sideline to the Cougar 15. Two plays later, Sims scored on a 7-yard run to make it 14-0 with 2:41 left in the first quarter.
That would prove to be all the offense Ventura would need. But the Pirates added three more points when Tyler Stampler booted a 36-yard field goal on the next Ventura drive early in the second quarter. And the Cougars continued to have trouble holding onto the ball, fumbling six times, with Ventura recovering four of those fumbles. The Cougars didn't make it inside the Ventura 40 during the entire first half.
In the second half, Stampler added two more field goals to push the Ventura lead to 23-0. The first of those came after another Canyons fumble, this one by Cameron Bailey on a punt return. The Cougar defense had forced a Ventura punt, but after Bailey caught the kick, Ventura's Art Gilbreath snatched the ball out of his hands at the Canyons 21. Ventura drove all the way to the Cougar 1, but the Canyons defense held firm on two straight plays from the 1, and Stampler came on to make it 20-0 with an 18-yard field goal. Stampler also kicked a field goal, this one from 35 yards out, with just under 6 minutes left in the game to make it 23-0.
Canyons avoided the shutout with a touchdown with just 2:35 left in the game. Backup quarterback Justin Morales threw a long pass to D.J. Stephens, who raced down the field before a saving tackle by Ventura's Chad Kurz brought him down at the 5. Three plays later, Morales hit Mychal Rivera for a 5-yard touchdown pass to get the Cougars on the board. But even after that minor triumph, Ventura got a measure of consolation when Wayne Blackwell blocked the extra point.
For Ventura, Sims, who played the first half, completed 10 of 13 passes for 107 yards and also rushed for 45 yards and a TD on 7 carries. Gregory Jimenez played the second half and completed 6 of 7 passes for 34 yards, giving Ventura a total of 16 completions from 20 attempts on the night. The Pirates also totaled 164 yards rushing on 50 attempts, with Sims' 45 yards representing a game-high total. Overall, the Ventura offense held the ball for 40:04 of the 60 minutes in the game.
For Canyons, it was a rough night all around. Brown completed 7 of 11 passes for 53 yards, but also fumbled 4 times. And frustration boiled over when, after he was sacked by Blackwell with 9:08 left in the game, he was ejected for throwing a couple of punches after Blackwell had tried to take the ball away as the play ended. Nick Hale led the Cougars with 43 yards rushing on 7 carries. And C.J. Atkins was perhaps the only Cougar to truly have a solid night; he had 43 yards on 3 carries and 3 catches for 33 yards, and also returned a pair of kickoffs for 32 yards.
The win keeps Ventura undefeated in Northern Conference play entering the Pirates' showdown next week against undefeated Bakersfield. It's also Ventura's first win over Canyons since 1999, as the Cougars had won the previous 8 meetings. Canyons still leads the all-time series, 13-7 and 8-3 since the COC program was reinstated in 1998.
The loss puts Canyons in a most difficult position. Following the bye next week, COC has just 2 games remaining, and is currently in 4th place in the Northern Conference behind undefeated Bakersfield and Ventura, as well as Allan Hancock, who has one conference loss but who beat COC earlier this season. After reaching the Southern California championship game last year, the Cougars will need to not only win out but get a lot of help just to qualify for the playoffs this season.
Ventura Pirates 23
College of the Canyons Cougars 6
Saturday, October 24, 2009 - 7 pm - Ventura College
National Division - Northern Conference
V - Morris 2 yd run (Stampler kick) 14:02 (7-0)
V - Sims 7 yd run (Stampler kick) 2:41 (14-0)
V - FG Stampler 36 yds 11:13 (17-0)
V - FG Stampler 18 yds 6:44 (20-0)
V - FG Stampler 35 yds 5:54 (23-0)
C - Rivera 5 yd pass from Morales (kick blocked) 2:35 (23-6)
First Downs: Ventura 17 (7 rush, 7 pass, 3 penalty), Canyons 8 (5 rush, 3 pass)
Rushes-Yds: Ventura 50-164, Canyons 34-101
Passing Yds: Ventura 141, Canyons 113
Comp-Att-Int: Ventura 16-20-0, Canyons 9-15-0
Return Yds: Ventura 76, Canyons 112
Sacks-Yds: Ventura 2-10, Canyons 2-9
Fumbles-Lost: Ventura 3-1, Canyons 7-5
Penalties-Yds: Ventura 8-65, Canyons 120
Time of Possession: Ventura 40:04, Canyons 19:56
Rushing: Ventura 6-Sims 7-45, 34-Morris 16-39, 8-Bostic 14-38, 21-McPherson 5-24, 22-Stewart 3-10, 24-Sanders 1-8, 3-Karam 1-3, 25-??? 1-2, 89-Shelton 1-(-1), 12-Jimenez 1-(-4); Canyons 1-Atkins 3-43, 21-Hale 7-43, 28-A.Johnson 4-9, 12-Zirbel 2-7, 7-Brown 13-7, 24-Bailey 2-4, 82-McCrory 1-0, 8-Morales 1-(-9), team 1-(-3)
Passing: Ventura 6-Sims 10-13-0-107; 12-Jimenez 6-7-0-34; Canyons 8-Morales 2-4-0-60, 1 TD; 7-Brown 7-11-0-53
Receiving: Ventura 3-Karam 4-23, 11-Gunter 3-33, 14-Holcomb 2-23, 1-Hebert 2-21, 4-Washington 2-8, 10-Leith 1-16, 21-McPherson 1-9, 34-Morris 1-8; Canyons 1-Atkins 3-33, 11-Stephens 2-51, 24-Bailey 2-17, 85-Wright 1-7, 81-Rivera 1-5
Interceptions-Ret Yds: none
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: Ventura 17-Powers 2-12, 12-Jackson 1-0, 43-Gilbreath 1-0, 90-Lattimore 1-0; Canyons 9-A.Smith 1-0
Sacks-Yds: Ventura 7-Panapa 1-8, 60-Blackwell 1-2; Canyons 19-Harrington 1-5, 56-Jermar Cushnie 1-4
Punters: Ventura 45-Reynoso 2-33.5 avg; Canyons 96-Behrad 5-31.4 avg
Kick Returns: Ventura 8-Bostic 1-17; Canyons 22-O'Donnell 4-81, 1-Atkins 2-32
Punt Returns: Ventura 3-Karam 1-47; Canyons 24-Bailey 1-(-1)
Missed FG: none
Ejection: Canyons 7-Brown 9:08 4th
Notes: Ventura improves to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in National-North; the Pirates entered #12 in South, #20 in Calif and #22 in nation (JC Grid-Wire). Canyons falls to 5-3 overall, 2-2 in National-North after entering t-#13 in South, #21 in Calif and t-#25 in nation. Sims played the 1st half for Ventura at QB; Jimenez played the 2nd half. VC's 1st TD came 2 plays after Powers' 1st recovery of a Brown fumble at the COC 30. VC's 2nd TD came 3 plays after Karam's punt return to the COC 15. Stampler's 2nd FG came after Gilbreath snatched the ball away from Bailey on a punt return. Brown was ejected with 9:08 remaining; he appeared to throw a couple of punches after Blackwell tried to take the ball away following a sack. Morales played the rest of the way at QB for COC. His TD toss to Rivera kept COC from being shut out; it would have been COC's 1st time shut out since the program was reinstated in 1998. Blackwell blocked the extra point for Ventura. Canyons still leads the all-time series, 13-7, but this breaks an 8-game win streak for the Cougars and is Ventura's 1st win vs. COC since 1999.