Falcons come up just short against undefeated Ventura College

Patrick Dolly

An inability to convert in the red zone and several injuries prevented the Cerritos College Falcons from continuing their winning ways as they lost to the undefeated Ventura College Pirates by a score of 18-13 on the road at Ventura College.

The Falcons (4-3, 2-1) came out fired up against the No. 2 team in Southern California, reaching the end zone in just two plays.

A strong first half defensive effort by the Falcons put the ball in the hands of the Falcon offense but sophomore quarterback, Morgan Fennell and the offensive unit were not able to capitalize on two separate offensive drives that both stalled in the red zone.

The first stalled red zone trip for the Falcons came on their second possession of the night. The Falcons successfully pushed the ball down to the Pirates 8-yard line before the Ventura College defense was able to force then recover a fumble giving the ball back to the Pirate offense and avoiding a second Falcons score in as many offensive possessions.

The second stalled red zone trip for the Falcons came in the second quarter. The Falcons got all the way down to the Pirates 4-yard line before being held by the Pirate defense where the Falcons were forced to attempt a field goal. The kick missed wide to the left giving the ball back to the Ventura College offense without surrendering any additional points in two red zone attempts for the Falcons.

The Pirates (8-0, 4-0) struggled offensively early on before they began to find a bit of rhythm.

Realizing that they could have very possibly been facing a 21-0 deficit, Pirates sophomore quarterback, Ebahn Feathers put the Ventura College offense on his shoulders, completing 7-of-9 passes before the Pirates coaching staff put linebacker PJ Gremaud in the game at fullback.

Gremaud pushed the ball to the Falcon 5-yard line where Pirates running back Cleavon Barnes found the end zone, tying the game at 7-7 with a little over five minutes remaining.

With the momentum changing, Falcons quarterback Paul Lopez entered the game for Fennell who suffered an injury earlier in the game and would not return to the contest.

Freshman defensive tackle David Moala thinks that Lopez had to step up following Fennell’s injury.

He (Lopez) was shaky at first. He was nervous; he didn’t know how to handle it (the pressure) well, then when he finally got the rhythm of the game, he started to settle in. He had some big shoes to fill, trying to come in and play right away,” Moala said.

Dealing with the Pirates’ surging momentum was not the only concern for the Falcons, as freshman wide receiver, Ricky Carrigan, Jr. and sophomore cornerback Theodore Chambers also suffered injuries.

Sophomore Cerritos College running back, Michael Garrison feels that injuries affected the teams performance.

“A few of our starters got hurt and usually when a starter gets hurt, it affects the chemistry of the team because we’re used to playing with certain guys,” he said.

The close contest continued into the third quarter when the Pirates pushed the ball into field goal range, capped off by a 32-yard field goal by sophomore kicker, Carlos Luna, putting the Pirates ahead 10-7 with a little under nine minutes to play in the third quarter.

With Lopez attempting to settle in at quarterback, the Falcons pushed the ball down the field where freshman Michael Garrison scored from about five yards out once again putting the Falcons up 13-10.

The Falcons celebration was short-lived as the extra point attempt was blocked by the Ventura defensive special team unit ending up in the hands of Pirates sophomore wide receiver/cornerback Jordan Howard who returned the ball virtually uncontested the length of the field for two points making the score 13-12 Falcons with about two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Falcon defense continued to struggle in the battle of field position as Ventura College again found success reaching the end zone on a combination of a 26-yard pass play from Feathers to sophomore running back, Kendall Worth and freshman running back, DeMarye Williams making the score 18-13 with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. A nice defensive stop by the Falcons on a Pirates two-point conversion kept the score 18-13 Ventura College.

Still fighting, the Falcons were primed to once again take the lead but sophomore standout receiver Robert Abeyta dropped a pass that seemed destined to land him in the end zone. Two plays later, Abetya dropped another pass that would have given the Falcons a much needed first down.

Garrison expressed how he feels about the dropped passes, saying, “nine times out of 10, he (Robert Abeyta) will catch those balls.

With no choice but to go for it on fourth-and-goal, Lopez searched for an open receiver before being stripped of the ball by a perusing Pirates defense.

Ventura College took over on downs where it ran out the clock.

Freshman free safety, Daveyon Monette talked about the things that affected the outcome of the game.

“There were missed tackles, blown assignments, little things like that. No one is individually to blame, it was a team effort.

The next contest for the Falcons doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Bakersfield College to take on the 5-2 Renegades.