A crisp evening filled with ecstatic cheers set the stage for the 53rd annual Buena versus Ventura rivalry football game at Buena High School. However, home field advantage was a non-factor throughout the game, as Ventura High School scored early and often on their way to a 35-9 victory over the Bulldogs.
The game began with the Cougars kicking off to the Bulldogs, and Buena started the game on their own 14 yard line. Ventura’s defensive unit put together multiple stops on the first drive, which forced the Bulldogs to punt.
However, Ventura’s punt returner fumbled the ball, and Buena promptly regained possession in Ventura territory. Despite having the ball inside Ventura’s 20 yard line, Buena failed to capitalize on the opportunity as the Cougars intercepted the ball in the end zone, running it back out to their own 10 yard line.
From then on, the rest of the first quarter went back-and-forth, as Ventura and Buena were forced to punt multiple times. The scoreless tie was finally broken when Ventura running back and senior Broc Mortensen carried the ball into the end zone with one minute remaining. After the Cougars tallied on the extra point, the scoreboard read 7-0.
When the second quarter began, Ventura embarked on a ten play drive which resulted in their quarterback, senior Jack Gutierrez, rushing into the end zone for their second touchdown. Again, the extra point was successful as the Cougars led 14-0 with approximately eight minutes left to play in the first half.
Over the next seven minutes, possession of the ball went back-and-forth without any points scored by either side. However, Ventura ended the scoring drought with a 34-yard touchdown pass to junior Joey Thompson. At the end of the first half, the Cougars had a 21-0 lead.
“Our guys played lights out,” Cougar head coach Tim Garcia said. “They played championship football […] and it’s that time of the year that we’ve got to do that.”
Once the scoreboard had signaled the start of the third quarter, Ventura picked up right where they had left off, driving the ball into Buena territory and eventually the end zone. A 44-yard rush by the running back, Mortensen, gave the Cougars excellent field position. Gutierrez rushed into the endzone for a 13-yard touchdown, which was his second of the game.
After the extra point, the Cougars led 28-0 with nine minutes and forty-eight seconds left in the quarter. Once Buena got the ball back, Ventura’s defense forced another punt.
From the Cougars’ own 19-yard line, Gutierrez threw the ball to sophomore Gavin Blanks, who scored on a 79-yard catch-and-run with seven minutes and 24 seconds left in the quarter. This was the longest play of the game from either side. However, it would be the final time that Ventura would score. The remaining seven minutes in the third quarter yielded no scoring, as the Cougars held a 35-0 lead.
As the final quarter of play began, Ventura had possession of the ball, but they were backed up against their own end zone. Buena’s defense then sacked Gutierrez in the endzone, resulting in a safety which was worth two points.
The Bulldogs were now on the scoreboard, but still trailed the Cougars 35-2. With six minutes and thirty-two seconds still left to play, Buena scored their first touchdown of the game on a 40-yard pass play to senior Andrew Bergum. After Buena’s score, the scoreboard read 35-9.
In an attempt to get the ball back, Buena tried an onside kick, but the Cougars recovered the ball and the Bulldogs would not have possession for the rest of the game. Ventura ran down the clock until the game was over, and they had defeated the Bulldogs by a final score of 35-9.
Following the victory, Foothill senior and Ventura wide receiver Rico Stubbs offered his praise for his team’s performance.
“The offense was driving all night” and “defense was stopping ’em all night,” he said.
Buena senior Alvin Dykes felt that his team’s performance was “decent,” but they could still improve. “We need to be able to stay together the whole game,” he said.
Buena’s head coach, Tim Gutierrez, stated that “[it] was an emotional game.” It was “one of those games where we think that this is our year,” he said.
Tim Garcia, the Cougars’ head coach, credited the rest of the coaching staff as a key component in the team’s victory.
“[The] coaching staff came up with a very good game plan,” he said.
Garcia also made a positive remark regarding the way his team played, comparing their effort to high caliber teams. “Our guys played lights out,” he said. “They played championship football […] and it’s that time of the year that we’ve got to do that.”
Storify Credit: Abby Sourwine / The Foothill Dragon Press