SOUTHERN SECTION DIVISION II FOOTBALL : Irvine’s Late Surge Knocks the Wind Out of Ventura
Quarterback Jason Minici’s 94-yard touchdown pass ignited a third-quarter scoring burst that gave Irvine a 37-18 victory over Ventura Saturday night in the second round of the Southern Section Division II playoffs at Irvine High.
Irvine (10-2) scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to advance to the semifinals next Saturday against Pasadena Muir. Ventura finished its season 9-3.
The teams scored all their points in the first half with a strong wind at their backs. Then Minici turned the game around by connecting with wide receiver Jon Peck on a 94-yard pass that pushed Irvine ahead, 24-10, in the third quarter.
Those two combined for another touchdown two minutes later, this time connecting on a 26-yard play that gave Irvine a 31-10 lead. Ventura never seriously threatened again.
Ventura came into the game averaging 386 yards per game, including 274 yards rushing, but the Cougars had problems getting untracked against Irvine’s defense and the strong wind.
Quarterback Trevor Rumsey had 178 yards passing but also was intercepted twice. Derek Swafford, who had rushed for 1,085 yards in 10 games, was held to 63 yards in 11 carries.
“The wind made us a little more one-dimensional than usual,” said Ventura Coach Harvey Kochel. “Yeah, I would say the wind was a factor. It seemed like whoever had the wind at their backs in the first half usually moved the ball well.”
Irvine had no problems moving the ball in the second half. Minici had only 29 yards passing in the first half but burned Ventura’s secondary for 192 yards in the second half. He completed 13 of 17 passes for 221 yards, missing only two attempts in the second half.
Running back Scott Seal was equally effective on the ground. Seal had 46 yards rushing at halftime but finished with 190 yards in 33 carries. Seal scored two of his three touchdowns in the second half.
Irvine Coach Terry Henigan acknowledged that the wind was a factor in the first half . . . at least psychologically.
“I got too conservative in the second quarter,” Henigan said. “I let the wind freak me out. Finally, Jason came up to me and said, ‘Let’s pass the ball.’ We decided we were going to throw in the second half no matter what.”