Riverside Upsets No. 1 Ventura, Advances to Fifth-Consecutive Southern Regional Championship

Photo by Bobby R. Hester
Photo by Bobby R. Hester

For the fifth-consecutive season, the Riverside City College football team has advanced to the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) Southern Regional Championship game after taking down the top-ranked Ventura College Pirates.

Riverside and Ventura clashed for the eighth time in the past seven years with half of their contests coming in Southern Regional playoff action. The trend continued tonight as both juggernaut programs battled it out in the SCFA Regional Semifinals where both teams have met twice before.

The Tigers bested the Pirates by the final score of 41-21 behind a staunch offense and a rejuvenated defense that forced a season-high four turnovers. Of the four turnovers, the Riverside offense capitalized and scored on each ensuing possession.

The defense came prepared for what the Pirates had cooking on their opening drive by taking advantage of a failed trick play. In an effort to catch the Tigers sleeping, the Pirates attempted a halfback pass that was underthrown and found the hands of freshman Demarco Moorer. Moorer handled the wobbling pass attempt and brought it back 25 yards into Ventura territory.

Riverside capitalized on the following possession and completed a six play, 64 yard drive capped by a 23-yard rushing touchdown from sophomore quarterback Jordan Barton. Barton shedded three potential tacklers on his way to the endzone.

The defense was back at it the following series as freshman linebacker Gage Summers forced a fumble on a Pirates fourth down attempt. The ball squirted out of the tailback's grasp and was scooped up by sophomore Carlton Johnson who returned it 31 yards deep into Ventura territory. He nearly scored on the play.

Riverside needed just four plays the following drive which was sealed by a five yard rushing touchdown from freshman Dean Connors to snag a two-score lead.

The Pirates answered with their lone touchdown of the first half, but Riverside followed by putting up 27 unanswered points that stretched through the third quarter.

Two more scores stemmed from the Tiger's stout defense highlighted by a 75-yard pick six from Johnson late in the second quarter. Johnson jumped a poorly thrown slant pattern and weaved 75 yards to the house.

On the possession prior, Barton connected with freshman wide receiver Marquise Ashley for a season-long 80-yard touchdown connection. It currently stands as the longest touchdown reception of the season.

The Tigers went on to score 13 more points highlighted by a three yard screen pass to freshman wide receiver Juwan Tucker for a touchdown and two field goals from sophomore Ricardo Chavez. Chavez first boot was 43 yard conversion, while the second kick was a 24 yard chip shot.

Barton went 15-for-24 with 278 yards and two touchdown passes. He also carted the ball a season-high nine times for 47 yards and one rushing touchdown. He completed at least one pass to six different receivers highlighted by sophomore wide receiver Jammal Houston. Houston hauled in five grabs for a game-high 95 yards.

Sophomore Thomas Kinslow was the lead back due to early injury. He took advantage by rushing the ball a season-high 22 times for 72 yards. Connors followed with 16 totes for 54 yards and a score.

Defensively, Riverside had three sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and four pass break ups.

Sophomore Noa Purcell led the defense with six tackles, while freshman Keithan Gooden and Summers followed with four. Summers had one sack for a loss of 10 yards.

Johnson was the most effective on the defensive end with three tackles, one pass break up, an interception for a touchdown and a fumble recovery.

Riverside advances to the SCFA Southern Regional Championship on Saturday, December 4 against the No.2 seeded Golden West College Rustlers in a week four rematch. More information to come on www.rccathletics.com