Clutch Capistrano Valley defense smothers Ventura


VENTURA – There were opportunities to put the game out of reach earlier in the second half, but multiple miscues inside the 5-yard line stalled a pair of Capistrano Valley drives, consequently giving a pesky Ventura squad a pulse.

Fortunately for Coach Ernie Bucher and the Capo Valley offense, their comrades on the defensive side of the ball continued to play lights out, smothering yet another opponent when it mattered most.

Capistrano Valley kept Ventura out of the end zone on four potential game-tying drives in the second half and used a late 31-yard field goal from Clay Eggeman to top Ventura, 20-10, Friday night in a CIF-SS Division 5 second-round game at Ventura High.

Capo Valley (11-1) advanced to its second semifinal game in the last three seasons with the victory, and will travel to take on M.L. King of Riverside (5-7) next Friday night. The Cougars lost an overtime heartbreaker to Sam Darnold and San Clemente in 2014, but they hope to erase that cruel memory with a win against the Wolves.

“This feels fantastic,” Bucher said. “It’s a special treat to have a little walk-through on Thanksgiving Day. And we get to do that again for the second time in three years, and that’s something really special.”

For the 10th time in 12 outings this season, Capistrano Valley’s defensive unit limited the opposing offense to 10 points or fewer. After allowing a touchdown midway through the first quarter, Capo’s defense held Ventura (8-4) to just a second-half field goal.

“We’ve won games in the past, but it’s nothing like this,” said junior defensive end Zach Ritner. “(Ventura) is probably the toughest team we’ve played all year. To win like this in a situation like this, it just feels great.”

Trailing 7-0 early, Capo Valley quarterback Kevin Brown connected with Riley Kasper and Nathan Manning for 33- and 68-yard touchdown passes, grabbing a 14-7 lead by the end of the first quarter that they also took into the half.

The Capo Valley defense sacked shifty Ventura quarterback Jack Gutierrez three times, and ended the game on Tommy Dickman’s interception.

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