Ventura Claims 31-25 Victory to Spill Canyons’ Bowl Hopes

As a warm sun sank into the sea Saturday, so did the chances of College of the Canyons capping its brilliant inaugural season with a bowl bid.

Ventura’s Maurice Atwood recovered a Canyons onside kick with 28 seconds to play and the Pirates held on to defeat the Cougars, 31-25, in a crucial Western State Conference Northern Division game at Ventura High.

Neither team is assured of an invitation to a bowl game in two weeks, since Bakersfield and Hancock will play next week for the division title. But the outlook is promising for Ventura (7-2, 3-2 in conference play), which finishes the season next week at Pierce, and bleak for Canyons (7-3, 4-2), which has completed its schedule.

“We felt that whatever team wins this game is going go to a bowl game,” Coach Terry Morris said of Ventura. “That’s what it came down to.”


It became a see-saw battle by the seashore, the lead changing hands four times in the second half, before Ventura moved ahead for good, 25-22, early in the fourth quarter on a 34-yard run by Travis Rogers on fourth and one.

Two minutes later, Atwood raced 85 yards on a sweep for a touchdown to give Ventura a 31-22 lead.

Ventura’s defense braced itself for three final Canyons possessions. But the Cougars could manage only a 33-yard field goal by Heloyt Cervantes with 31 seconds to play.

Kevin Carrasco of Canyons, the WSC’s leading passer, connected with Jason Parks for a 23-yard touchdown to give Canyons a 22-17 lead late in the third quarter. But Carrasco was sacked three times, twice by Torrance Heggie.