Moorpark Raiders leave empty handed as Ventura Pirates snatched the Citrus Cup once again

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Moorpark Raiders leave empty handed as Ventura Pirates snatched the Citrus Cup once again

Moorpark Wide Receiver Zach Jones is pushed out of bounds by Ventura Defensive Back Keeven Ross but brings the Raiders a first down during the 52nd annual Citrus cup against Ventura College on Oct. 27 at Moorpark College. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Moorpark Wide Receiver Zach Jones is pushed out of bounds by Ventura Defensive Back Keeven Ross but brings the Raiders a first down during the 52nd annual Citrus cup against Ventura College on Oct. 27 at Moorpark College. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Moorpark Wide Receiver Zach Jones is pushed out of bounds by Ventura Defensive Back Keeven Ross but brings the Raiders a first down during the 52nd annual Citrus cup against Ventura College on Oct. 27 at Moorpark College. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Moorpark Wide Receiver Zach Jones is pushed out of bounds by Ventura Defensive Back Keeven Ross but brings the Raiders a first down during the 52nd annual Citrus cup against Ventura College on Oct. 27 at Moorpark College. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Ryan Bough

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The Moorpark Raiders took to the field on Saturday night hoping to finally claim the Citrus cup for the first time since 2007 but the Ventura Pirates had other plans, as they defeated the Raiders 55-20.

The game started off in the Raiders favor as Alex Sarti took a 13 yard pass from Isaiah Johnson into the end zone giving Moorpark a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Dylaan Lee, one of the Raiders wide receivers, knew what this game meant for the Raiders. This game was a special one as it was the 52nd annual Citrus cup and the Ventura Pirates are the Raiders biggest rival.

“The rivalry is very real, even before the game since I first got to Moorpark. I just keep hearing Ventura versus Moorpark that’s the biggest rivalry out here. Everybody takes the game to heart so I just knew there was a lot depending on this game so I gave it my all,” said Lee who had a total of 60 yards received.

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Wide Receiver Dylaan Lee breaks through multiple tackles as he completes a 47 yard reception during the home game against Ventura College on Oct. 27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The Raiders’ excitement was shut down immediately into the second quarter as the Pirates scored with a 31-yard touchdown by Terrell Vaughn. The Raiders tried desperately to get a touchdown, however the Raiders’ penchant for penalties repeatedly set them back. Moorpark tallied up 14 penalties in the game resulting in 117 yards lost while Ventura had 11 penalties losing 106 yards.

“We need to work on holding back our penalties, penalties cost us game after game, so we have to focus on penalties because we got a couple of touchdowns called back tonight. Work on our penalties, work on our defense, working on our film studying and everything should be good. We just have to keep faith in our coaches,” said Lee.

The Raiders then fumbled the ball which was quickly recovered by the Pirates who were able to score yet another touchdown bringing the score to 17-7 in the Pirates’ favor in the middle of the second quarter. The Raiders defense was able to stop the Pirates advance at the goal line so the Pirates went for a field goal. After the successful field goal, Ventura led going into halftime with the score at 20-7.

Head Coach Mike Stuart discussed how the 13-point deficit affected the Raiders’ spirits.

“We came out of this locker room and it was a different football team, their emotions and everything was sort of down at that point. I wouldn’t even call that a three quarter game I think we just played half a game and were hoping for something,” said Stuart. “Hope does not go a long way, you actually have to have a game plan and rely on the coaches and I think they almost lost faith especially in that third quarter they felt like they couldn’t win that game.”

The Raiders came into the third quarter slow which allowed the Pirates to complete a 63 yard pass from Nevin Yuen to Mark Ferrell who took it to the end zone in the third play of the quarter, widening the Pirates’ lead to 27-7.

“Things started to unravel when they scored that big drive in the third play of the third quarter, there were a lot of heads dropping and a lot of people just not happy at that moment and I just felt like they took the wind out of us at that moment and we were just playing from behind, I don’t think anyone believed we could catch up at that point,” said Stuart.

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Quarterback Isaiah Johnson attempts to dash through the defensive line but is pushed out of bounds at the Ventura 45-yard line during the home game against Ventura College on Oct.27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The Raiders energy continued to wane as the Pirates snatched an interception at the Moorpark 33-yard line in the middle of the third quarter. An offside penalty against Moorpark brought the Pirates even closer to the end zone. Despite the Raiders’ tireless attempts to stop them, the Pirates scored another touchdown, extending their lead to 34-7.

Wide Receiver Reece Smith alluded to what kept holding the Raiders back.

“We drove the ball pretty much every time we got it, if we didn’t it was because it was our own mistake. We shot ourselves in the foot, that team [Ventura] didn’t do anything to bring us down, we shot ourselves in the foot,” said Smith.

The Raiders retaliated with a touchdown at the end of the third quarter, courtesy of a three yard rush from Isaiah Johnson, bringing the score to 34-14. The Raiders’ penalties started to pile on, allowing the Pirates to score three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter bringing bthe score to 55-14.

With six minutes left in the fourth quarter the Raiders made one last effort to score. Jordan Cuevas threw a 37 yard pass caught by Vince James scoring the final touchdown of the night for Moorpark. Despite the their best efforts to catch up, the Raiders couldn’t catch up as the Pirates were too far ahead. The final score being Ventura 55, Moorpark 20. Reece Smith talked about the teams potential and what he thinks the team has to do.

“I think we have to capitalize, we are not capitalizing. We are going out there and we’re doing what we are supposed to do but we have to take advantage of the opportunities because we have the talent, we have so much talent on this team but we are not doing the things that we’re supposed to in the moments that count,” said Smith.

For now, the Citrus Cup remains elusive for the Raiders. The Raiders will get another opportunity at the cup next year, but for now the Raiders will focus on their upcoming away game against Long Beach City College on Nov. 2.

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