The Saddleback football team improved to 6-0 with a 45-7 win against Southwestern College on Homecoming night at Mission Viejo High School. The Gauchos led from start-to-finish to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 2011.
Saddleback started a bit slowly, stalling on each of their first three drives as neither team could move the ball with any consistency. The Gauchos then entered another gear, scoring 24 points in the final 21 minutes of the half in taking a commanding 24-7 lead into the locker room.
Chance Nolan capped off a 9-play, 60-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run as the Gauchos got on the board with 2:54 remaining in the opening quarter. Nolan then scored on two-point conversion and the Gauchos had a lead they would never relinquish.
Following a Southwestern score, Saddleback drove 80 yards in five plays, capped off by a 3-yard pass from Nolan to Cole Harrity. The drive was highlighted by a 39-yard completion to Harrity. Nolan would find Tyriek Bell for the two-point conversion and the Gauchos were off and running at 16-7.
Saddleback started its next drive at their own 42 yard line with 8:29 remaining in the half. The Gauchos scored in 1:17, going 58 yards in five plays for a 24-7 lead. Nolan found Isaiah Garcia-Castenda, who scampered 46 yards for the score.
Saddleback opened the second half where they left off in the first, driving 48 yards in five plays as Nolan found Elijah Jefferson for a 3-yard score. It gave the Gauchos a 31-7 lead and essentially put the game on ice.
Saddleback added insult to injury on the following drive when they went 69 yards in two plays for a 38-7 lead. Garcia-Castaneda again was the target, catching a bubble screen along the sidelines and streaking 60 yards for his second score of the game. It was Nolan's fourth touchdown pass of the game, and essentially ended his night as he only played in one more possession.
Saddleback ended the scoring with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter when the defense had some fun. Abrae Booker-Currin stepped in front of a Brad Jeremiah pass and returned it 40 yards for the final score of the night.
It was a perfect ending to a perfect night, as Saddleback also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1969 squad that went to the small school state championship game. Nine players from the team showed up for the game and were honored at halftime (picture below).
Nolan finished 15-of-26 for 201 yards passing with four touchdowns while leading the team with 88 yards on 15 carries with another score. Garcia-Castaneda has arguably his biggest night of the season, finishing with six receptions for 126 yards and two scores.
Kai Ross led the defense with six total tackles while the Gauchos forced four Jaguar turnovers. Tyriek Bell and Sean Owens both had fumble recoveries while Booker-Currin and Matthew Poching both had interceptions.
Saddleback is now 6-0 overall and 1-0 in National Division Southern League play. The Gauchos will go on the road next Saturday to Orange Coast College to take on the Pirates. Saddleback and Orange Coast are scheduled to start at 6:00 PM.