The Saddleback football team saw its season come to an end on Saturday night with a 58-53 loss at College of the Canyons. The Gauchos set a number of new records in the game in finishing 9-2.
Saddleback and Canyons were playing for the right to meet Riverside City College in the Southern California title game next weekend, and put on what most would consider an instant classic. The Gauchos engineered and amazing comeback, only to fall 18 inches short of a chance at pulling it off.
Speaking of chance, Saddleback quarterback Chance Nolan cemented his name in the record books on Saturday night. The redshirt freshman had one of the great nights in Saddleback football history, accounting for 577 yards of total offense and rewriting the record books along the way.
Nolan's massive performance gave him 4,384 yards of total offense in one season, breaking the record set by Tim Belman in 2013 (4,315). In addition, he threw five touchdown passes in the game to give him 38 for the season in breaking the record of 34 set in 2013 (Belman). To put things into perspective, he did it in 534 plays, which was 89 less plays than Bellman (623).
Nolan finished with 3,315 yards passing and 38 touchdowns against only six interceptions, completing 66% of his passes. The passing yardage ranks No. 5 in single-season history, right on the heels of the legendary Colt Brennan. What separated Nolan from any other quarterback in Saddleback history was his rushing numbers, as he led the team in rushing yardage and tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns (6). Nolan finished with 1,069 yards rushing, easily passing Johnny Stanton as the top running quarterback of all time. Stanton had 752 yards rushing in 2015 in setting the standard. Nolan's rushing total ranks ninth all-time in Saddleback history for a single-season.
Nolan's efforts also helped Saddleback set a new record for points in a season. The Gauchos finished with 509 points, eclipsing the record of 483 set in 2017. In addition, they also set the new standard for points-per-game (46.3), passing the 43.9 scored in 2017.
Unfortunately, all the records couldn't keep the Gauchos in the playoffs on Saturday night as Canyons jumped out to a massive lead in the third quarter before hanging on for dear life. Saddleback was down 51-19 midway through the third quarter, a seemingly impossible situation if it weren't for the exploits of Nolan. The Gauchos proceeded to outscore the Cougars 33-7 over the next 22.5 minutes, only to see the dream come to an end with 25 seconds remaining on the clock. Saddleback tried an on-sides kick and actually recovered the football, but despite the recovering player being past the 10-yard stripe needed to successfully recover an on-sides kick, his hands were only 9.5 yards downfield, thus giving the ball back to the receiving team.
In total, Saddleback finished with a 743-459 advantage in total yardage. It was third time this season that the Gauchos had broken a previous record of 679 total yards set against El Camino College in 2016. Yet another record.
For those wondering what the highest scoring game in Saddleback history was, this game finished one point short. The 111 total was just behind a 57-55 win against Grossmont College in 2016. Saddleback also finished with 395 yards rushing in the game, which was 36 yards shy of a record 431 set against Riverside City College in 1970.
Saddleback finishes the season 9-2, but gave the Gaucho fan base one of its more memorable seasons of all time. Congrats Gauchos on a sensational season!