The Saddleback football team improved to 9-0 with a 56-6 win at Grossmont College on Saturday afternoon in El Cajon. With the win, the Gauchos now face Riverside City College next Saturday for the National Division Southern League title.
Saturday's game was never in doubt as Saddleback bolted out to a big lead and ran and hid from Grossmont. The Gauchos held a 637-to-152 advantage in total yards over the Griffins, leaving little doubt as to which team had the most firepower. Later in the day over in the 951, the Riverside City College Tigers were taking care of business against Orange Coast, blasting the Pirates 76-3 as a return shot. The two wins now sets the stage for a winner-take-all next Saturday for the top seed in the Southern California playoffs.
Saddleback had another big day from quarterback Chance Nolan, who played only two quarters but managed to account for 365 total yards in the first 30 minutes of the game. Nolan was 14-of-22 for 259 yards passing and three scores through the air while rushing for 106 yards on 10 carries on the ground.
Nolan's favorite target was Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, who had three receptions for 146 yards and two scores. Garcia-Castaneda reeled in a 72-yard score from Nolan early in the second quarter to give Saddleback a 29-0 lead. He later caught a 63-yarder from Nolan in the closing minute of the half as the Gauchos had a 39-0 lead at the break.
Another with a busy afternoon was running back Anthodius Ashley, who finished with 71 yards and a score on 15 carries. Ashley broke the plane for his first touchdown of the season late in the third quarter as the Gaucho lead swelled to 46-0.
Saddleback's defense was impenetrable for nearly the entire day, holding Grossmont scoreless until the final minute of the game. The Gauchos held the Griffins to 12 yards rushing on 30 carries while intercepting Grossmont quarterbacks three times. The defense broke through on the scoresheet when Angelo Rooks returned an interception 38 yards for a 53-0 lead with 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Kai Ross finished with a team-high seven total tackles as Saddleback's defense finished with 13 tackles-for-loss and five sacks. A total of 13 different players on the defense made contact with Grossmont players behind the line-of-scrimmage, with Connor Smith and Sean Owens finishing with a combined four tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks.
Saddleback is now 9-0 for the first time since 2006 when they opened the season 11-0 before falling to El Camino College in the state playoffs.
The Gauchos will host Riverside City College (9-0) on Saturday night at Mission Viejo High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM.