By Jair Ramirez
The Riverside City College football team is one step closer to becoming the Southern California Football Association champions after defeating the top ranked Ventura College Pirates 41-21.
It is RCC’s fifth consecutive season reaching the Southern California title game.
Win this and the Tigers will have rebounded from losing two consecutive mid-season games to defending their state title.
Ventura never regained momentum after coughing up the ball on its first two possessions. RCC capitalized on both to take a quick 14-0 lead over the undefeated Pirates.The Tigers’ defense brought intensity and energy they lacked earlier in the season.
“We played pretty much a flawless game, our defense played great, our offense was great tonight, special teams was good, solid,” RCC coach Tom Craft said. “We didn’t beat ourselves with penalties, we played a smart football game.”
The Tigers started fast down the field due to freshman quarterback Jordan Barton’s scrambling ability, who ran for a 23 yard touchdown.
RCC forced a fumble on Ventura’s next drive. This led to a Barton 80-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Marquis Ashley and set the tone for the rest of the game.
“I think it was important for us to get off to a good start and not let that team get ahead,” Craft said. “That was one of the priorities for us.”
Any hopes Ventura had were dashed toward the end of the second quarter after a Carlton Johnson 75-yard pick six.
The Tigers took a 24 point lead into halftime.
“If we bring it like that every game from here on out we can control our destiny,” Johnson said. “We had a great game plan coming in and all we had to do was execute it and we did.”
RCC cruised in the third quarter and took a 41-7 lead into the final quarter.
Ventura made the game look more respectable with two fourth quarter touchdowns.
The Tigers can avenge their midseason loss to Golden West while punching their ticket to the state championship Dec. 4 at noon in Huntington Beach..
“This is going to be a tough team to deal with,” Craft said.