It was a battle of top-25 teams on Saturday evening in Wheelock Stadium as the No. 3 Riverside City College football team played host to the No. 14 Ventura College Pirates in a non-conference showdown. The Tigers displayed a heavy attack on offense and clutch defense throughout the game, but the Pirates were returning each blow in what came down to the final possession. Fortunately for Riverside, a strip sack and fumble recovery by the Tigers in the final seconds sealed the deal, handing them a 42-34 victory.
It was all Tigers in the opening 15 minutes despite a pair of lengthy field goals successfully booted home by the Pirates. The Tigers sandwiched the two Pirates' field goals with a set of touchdowns. Sophomore running back Clifford Simms (Compton, CA) put the first points on the board by carrying the ball six yards into the end zone for six. Sophomore quarterback Vic Viramontes (Norco, CA) followed by lofting a 15-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Malik Holcomb (Chicago, IL) in the back corner of the end zone en route to a 14-6 advantage.
Viramontes continued to take over the ground game by pounding the ball down the Pirates' throats on various quarterback keepers and read option plays. His running game opened up his passing game as he completed his second touchdown pass of the showdown to freshman wide receiver Tanarious Achan (Lafayette, CA) for a 19-yard touchdown toss. He followed on the final drive of the half by completing another touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Cam Sutton (Moreno Valley, CA) leading to a 28-13 advantage at halftime.
Despite the big lead, the Pirates remained in the picture and worked to hold the Tigers to just seven points in the third quarter. Viramontes was continuing to run rampant on the gridiron while capping off the third-quarter scoring with a 44-yard touchdown heave to sophomore wide receiver Derrick Williams (San Diego, CA) for William's first touchdown of the season.
The Viramontes-Sutton connection stayed strong through the air in the fourth quarter by adding yet another score to expand the RCC lead to 42-20, but the Pirates continued to chip away and brought the score to 42-34 after two-consecutive touchdowns.
After the Tigers failed to earn a first down on their final possession in the fourth quarter, Ventura was handed the ball on their own 24-yard line after a 30-yard punt from freshman kicker John Garibay (Rubidoux, CA). The Pirates charged down to Riverside's 46-yard line and looked to push the ball into the end zone one last time.
However, the Riverside defense had other plans. As the Pirates quarterback dropped back to pass with less than 30 seconds on the clock, sophomore defensive lineman Paula Fakatoka (Honolulu, HI) strip-sacked the quarterback and freshman linebacker Adrian Alfaro (Chino, CA) recovered the fumble to end the game and hand the Tigers the victory.
Viramontes was unstoppable throughout the entire contest by rushing for over two bills on the ground with a total of 224 yards off 21 carries. Believe it or not, he was even more impressive through the air by going 13-for-21 with 284 yards and five touchdowns. His passing touchdown totals is a career high to go along with a career-high rushing clip and a career-high passing mark.
Furthermore, Viramontes is now ranked second in the state in rushing yards-per-game (145.5) and third in rushing touchdowns (6).
Sutton led the aerial attack with his two snags going for 63 yards and a pair of tuggers, while Achan finished with three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore defensive back Eric Wilson (Oceanside, CA) finished with nine total tackles and two break ups, while sophomore linebacker BJ Ojo (Houston, TX) matched his nine tackles mark to go along with a tackle for a loss.
Freshman linebacker Devin Charles (Fontana, CA) had the biggest sack of the game with it happening 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage, while sophomore defensive lineman Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei (Gold Coast, Australia) and Fakatoka recorded one each.
The Tigers (4-0) will take their undefeated record on the road next Saturday, September 30th and face off against the Cerritos College Falcons (2-2) at 7 p.m.