VENTURA — The Chargers’ quest for their first Channel League football championship in 31 years came down to the toe of a sophomore.
The toe came through.
Nicolai Bornand, who had missed twice earlier in the night, just barely cleared the crossbar on a 41-yard field goal with 11 seconds left on Thursday night to give Dos Pueblos a 30-27 win over Ventura at Larrabee Stadium. DP now wears the crown for the first time since 1979.
“I thought I could do it, my coaches thought I could do it and my team thought I could do it, so I did it for them,” said Bornand.
Many of the Charger players were wiping tears of joy from their eyes as the reality of the accomplishment set in.
“He goes over 50 yards in practice, and I think he missed ‘em all earlier in the game just to get to the point where he could win league by himself as a sophomore,” joked coach Jeff Uyesaka. “We knew he had it in him.”
He certainly didn’t win it by himself, however. The Chargers (7-3, 4-0) picked off Cougar quarterback Keihan Gibbs three times in the first half, with John Dickinson grabbing his first of two interceptions on the game’s very first play from scrimmage. Alex Peña also had an interception in the half, which set up a one-yard touchdown run by Josh Bartley. The speedy running back also scored on a 35-yard run up the sideline as the visitors took a 14-0 lead into halftime.
The third quarter, however, saw everything go haywire. Bornand nailed an early field goal to make it 17-0, but Ventura (6-4, 3-1) would score on kickoff returns of 99 and 90 yards by Anthony Lopez as well as a 10-yard return on a blocked punt by Nick Januska. They were huge bounce-back plays for the Cougars, who had an interception and turnover on downs called back due to roughing penalties in the quarter.
Starting quarterback Michael Spiritosanto was relegated to the sidelines with a possible concussion for much of the second half, but backup Ben Adams came up big. He had a 59-yard touchdown pass to Jim Lagatutta in the third quarter, and the two also hooked up on a 22-yard completion to convert 3rd-and-15 on the final drive and set up Bornand’s winning kick. Ventura’s final touchdown came with 2:45 to play on a short pass from Gibbs to Nick Rudolph.
Both teams will now move on to the CIF playoffs.
DOS PUEBLOS 30, VENTURA 27
Dos Pueblos 0 14 13 3—30
Ventura 0 0 20 7—27
DP —Bartley 35 run (Bornand kick), 7:57.
DP — Bartley 1 run (Bornand kick), 4:56.
DP — FG Bornand 27, 7:50.
Ven — Lopez 99 kickoff return (kick missed), 7:35.
Ven — Januska 10 return with blocked punt (pass failed), 6:32.
DP — Lagattuta 59 pass from Adams (Bornand kick), 4:46.
DP — FG Bornand 27, 1:08.
Ven — Lopez 90 kickoff return (Armstrong run), 0:55.
Ven — Rudolph 7 pass from Gibbs (Kirby kick), 2:45.
DP — FG Bornand 41, 0:11.
First downs 14 8
Rushes-yards 36-185 20-76
Passing yards 155 73
Comp-Att-Int 11-14-1 8-18-3
Sacked-yards lost 2-17 1-5
Punts-avg. 2-42.5 1-35.0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-30 5-50
RUSHING — Dos Pueblos: Bartley 19-106, Spiritosanto 14-52, Harris 1-15, Evans 1-10, Lagattuta 1-2. Ventura: Armstrong 17-57, Gibbs 3-19.
PASSING — Dos Pueblos: Evans 9-11-1-146, Soto 1-1-0-5, Spiritosanto 1-2-0-4. Ventura: Gibbs 8-18-3-73
RECEIVING — Dos Pueblos: Lagattuta 4-93, Roberts 2-21, Alden 2-12, Thomas 1-18, Gomez 1-5, Burke 1-4. Ventura: Armstrong 3-14, Evans 2-31, Rudolph 2-19, Lopez 1-(-)1.
MISSED FIELD GOAL — Dos Pueblos: Bornand 27, 22.
TEAM RECORDS — Dos Pueblos 7-3, 4-0; Westlake 6-4, 3-1.