Gauchos stun Mounties in final minute

photo c/o Cliff Robbins
photo c/o Cliff Robbins

The Saddleback football team improved to 5-0 on Saturday with a 27-24 win against Mt. San Antonio College at Covina District Field.  The Gauchos drove the length of the field in the final minute in pulling out the win.

Saddleback and Mt. San Antonio have had a history of crazy games in the past and the 2019 edition turned out to be one of the most improbable of all time.  Mt. San Antonio scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 75-yard touchdown pass with 57 seconds remaining in the game, only to see Saddleback return the favor by going 75 yards in 33 seconds, capped off with a Chance Nolan 30-yard pass to Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda to reclaim the lead.

Saddleback had the better of the play throughout, but a couple of untimely turnovers kept the Mounties in the game.  The Gauchos finished with a 465-351 advantage in total yardage, also holding an advantage in first downs (20-16), time-of-possession (31:17-to-28:43) and total offensive plays (72-60).

Unfortunately, sometimes the better team doesn't end up on the right side of the scoreboard and with 50 seconds left in the game the Gaucho faithful had a collective pit in their stomachs.  That was when Chance Nolan and the offense stepped on to the field, needing a score to keep an undefeated season alive.

Nolan completed his first pass to Elijah Jefferson, who ran out of bounds after a 12-yard gain to the 37-yard line.  Nolan then called his own number, but was forced to run out of bounds after a 1-yard gain.  He then found Jefferson for a 32-yard gain as the Gauchos had the ball at the Mountie 30-yard line with 25 seconds remaining.  Nolan's final pass was a beauty to Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, who leaped over a defender in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown.

Nolan finished 22-of-32 for 317 yards and two touchdown passes.  He also led the Gauchos with 95 yards on the ground, and now has accounted for 1,857 total yards and 17 touchdowns in five games.

Nolan's first touchdown of the night came on a short pass to Cole Harrity, who broke a tackle and went 90 yards for a score.  Harrity finished with a team-leading six catches for 124 yards.

The defense had another solid night, bottling up the Mt. SAC passing game for most of the night.  The Mounties had just six yards passing at halftime, and finished with 139 yards through the air after the 75-yard score.  Zachery Brumbaugh finished with a team-high eight tackles.  Brumbaugh and Markus Sullivan both finished with one sack apiece while the special teams came up big with a blocked field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter.

Saddleback finishes the first half of the season at 5-0 after wins over Canyons, Ventura, Pasadena City, Moorpark and Mt. San Antonio.  The Gauchos will have a bye next weekend before starting National Division Southern League play against Southwestern College on October 19 (Homecoming).