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Vaquero rally falls short in wild 47-40 shootout

Joshua Lindman threw for 239 yards and two TDs and Perry Martin (34) scored four TDs in his college debut. (Photo by PJ Heller / Sevilla Photography)
Joshua Lindman threw for 239 yards and two TDs and Perry Martin (34) scored four TDs in his college debut. (Photo by PJ Heller / Sevilla Photography)

Ventura scored three touchdowns in the last 4:55 of the opening half in Saturday night's football opener, then SBCC rallied back to within seven points on two occasions before the Pirates pulled out a wild 47-40 victory in front of 2,250 at the VC Sportsplex.

The teams combined for 87 points, 52 first downs and 1,123 yards of total offense. Ventura, ranked No. 8 in the state, gained 647 yards and the Vaqueros had 476.

It was the first meeting between the schools in five years and the 50th overall. Ventura leads the series 28-21-1.

Jake Luton, the Pirates' 6-6 sophomore quarterback, completed 36-of-55 passes for 487 yards and six TDs, including four in the first half as Ventura built a 34-17 lead.

The Vaqueros trailed 13-3 early in the second quarter, then took the lead 17-13 on a 4-yard run by Perry Martin and a 60-yard pass from Joshua Lindman to Jason-Matthew Sharsh with 6:47 to go in the second quarter. Sharsh caught six passes for 106 yards.

Martin, a freshman running back from Thousand Oaks High, had an impressive college debut with four touchdowns, including three in the second half. He ran 23 times for 88 yards and three scores and caught three passes for 64 yards. In the third quarter, he took a swing pass to the left and darted through three defenders for a 44-yard TD.

"I was very focused because this was an important game for our team," said Martin. "We didn't come out with a win but we gave Ventura a run for their money. At halftime, my running back coach told me I was doing such a good job and I need to take it to another level."

Noah Holle started at quarterback for the Vaqueros and he alternated with Lindman, a transfer from NCAA Div. 2 Lindenwood University (Mo.). Lindman completed 15-of-24 for 239 yards and two TDs. Holle, a transfer from Bakersfield College, was 7-17 for 85 yards with two interceptions.

After the Vaqueros went ahead 17-13, Ventura responded with an eight-play, 65-yard drive that produced an 8-yard TD pass from Luton to Logan Javernick. The Vaqueros drove 43 yards, then faced a fourth-and-1 on the Pirate 20-yard line, where Perry was tackled for a loss by Mark Zavala and Ereck Wilson Jr.

Six plays later, Brian Burt ran 12 yards up the middle, extending the lead to 27-17. On first down for the Vaqueros, Holle was intercepted by Vosean Crumbie and he returned it to the SBCC 20. Luten hooked up with Brandon Jordan on a 17-yard scoring pass, giving the Pirates two TDs in 25 seconds and a 34-17 halftime lead.

"At halftime, we told our guys to never give up and they didn't, so I'm really proud of them," said coach Craig Moropoulos. "Perry Martin is going to be very good. He's physical, he runs downhill, he can catch the ball and he has a great work ethic.

"I'm bummed because we lost and we didn't capitalize on some opportunities. Am I proud of my guys? Absolutely. That was a game we definitely could have won."

Ventura took the second-half kick and drove 83 yards for a 27-yard TD catch by Kendric Mallory. Bradley Toepfer, who led the Vaquero defense with 10 tackles, blocked the PAT attempt and Tony Anderson returned it 85 yards for two points that made it 40-19.

Sharsh returned the kickoff 34 yards to the 47. Two plays later, Lindman and Martin combined on their 44-yard TD pass. The Vaqueros forced a punt, then Lindman directed a 10-play, 73-yard march that culminated in a 3-yard TD run by Martin that pulled the Vaqueros within seven at 40-33 with 4:35 to go in the third.

SBCC punter Trent Schneider pinned the Pirates back at their 3 but they covered 97 yards in eight plays and stretched it to 47-33 on a 23-yard Luton-to-Brandon Jordan connection.

With 4:25 to go in the game, Sharsh ripped off a 64-yard punt return to the Ventura 8. A penalty moved it to the 4 and three players later, Martin scored over left tackle. Patrick Nasiatka's fifth PAT kick made it 47-40.

The Vaqueros kicked deep and held the Pirates to one first down, forcing a punt with 1:05 to go. Lindman and the offense started on their 34 but two straight sacks foiled the final drive.

"Defensively, we got a scoop-and-return of 66 yards by Kahlil West that led to a TD and an interception from Dominique Shelton," said Moropoulos. "Our defense gave up a lot but they made some big plays too. Lindman played well and Sharsh had a big punt return.

"We have to find a way to get it done in the red zone. We struggled a little today and part of that was due to losing one of our better linemen, Ramon Coral, to injury last week."

Moropoulos said Coral could be back on Saturday when the Vaqueros make their home debut against West L.A. at La Playa Stadium with kickoff at 1 p.m.