Outgained and outplayed the same way they'd been in earlier upsets over Westlake and Agoura, Buena High again was on the verge of an improbable victory.
This time, however, Oxnard fullback Chad Pierson ripped the final two minutes off the clock by churning for 17 yards in four carries to enable the Yellowjackets to hold on, 25-22, in a Channel League game Friday night at Ventura High.
Buena generated little offense and surrendered 107 yards rushing by Oxnard tailback Desmond Davis, 88 yards by Pierson and 130 yards passing by Joey Rivas.
But surrender the game?
"Buena is always that way, they never quit, and no matter what the score is you can't let up," Oxnard Coach Wes Morimune said.
Oxnard (4-1, 2-0 in league play) led 18-0 at halftime and 25-9 in the fourth quarter. But an interception by Albert De La Rocha, his fourth of the season, set up a seven-yard scoring run by Buena sophomore quarterback Kyle Loughman with seven minutes to play.
Buena held on to Oxnard's next possession and the Bulldogs put together their best drive of the game, going 57 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 14-yard pass from Loughman to Micah Thomas to make the score, 25-22.
An onside kick failed, however, and Pierson squeezed the ball with both arms on every carry. Buena (3-2, 1-1) was outgained, 328-223.
"We almost put ourselves into a situation where we could win," Buena Coach Rick Scott said.
Loughman had two passes intercepted in the first half and was zero for nine passing. He rebounded to complete nine of 14 in the second half.
Rivas did his best passing early, hitting nine of 17 for 106 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He finished 10 of 21 for 130 yards, throwing more than he has all season.
"They are boxing us in, keying on Davis and Pierson," Morimune said. "We have to throw to loosen the defense."
Oxnard opened the game with an 80-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Eric Swanger on a fade pass from Rivas.
Despite gaining only 43 yards in the first half, Buena stayed close until Oxnard scored two touchdowns in the last 1:35 to take an 18-0 lead.
Following in interception by Ariel Taylor, Oxnard moved 40 yards to score on a one-yard run by Pierson. Receptions of 18 and 16 yards by tight end Jacob Rogers set up the score.