Gauchos rip heart out of Warriors

Gauchos rip heart out of Warriors

After starting the season with a pair of losses, Saddleback was looking for something to spark the team and get back on the winning track.  The Gauchos found that on Saturday night in Redondo Beach in the form of a warrior.

Saddleback sophomore quarterback Johnny Stanton didn't look like the same player this week that he did in his first two games.  He was poised and confident as he connected on one short swing pass after another, mixing in an occassional slant pattern when the defense started to adjust to the swing pass.  With every completion, his confidence would build.  By halftime, Saddleback (1-2) had surprised El Camino College (1-2) with a 22-10 lead and Stanton was 20-of-24 through the air as he was a warrior against the Warriors.

The Gauchos got on the scoreboard first as Aaron Ball kicked a 21-yard field goal midway through the first quarter after the offense moved the ball 68 yards on 15 plays, showing great ball control.  El Camino quarterback Jorge Hernandez - who passed for over 600 yards in a game the previous week - scrambled 72 yards for a touchdown less than a minute later to give the Warriors the lead, 7-3.  Hernandez would be the Warriors' leading rusher on the night (eight carries, 103 yards, two TD's) and would end up with 206 passing yards but 127 of those yards came in the fourth quarter, including 74 passing yards on El Camino's last scoring drive.

Saddleback would regain the lead early in the second quarter as Stanton connected with Dominic Collins on a short slant that Collins converted into a 93-yard touchdown.  It proved to be the longest scoring pass play in school history, breaking the previous record of 90 yards set 35 seasons ago (1981) set by QB Lance Stewart and WR John Marshall.

El Camino would regain the lead, 10-9, on a 25-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, but Saddleback would dominate the rest of the second quarter and all of the third quarter, posting 33 unanswered points.  Stanton would give the Gauchos a 15-10 lead with a 1-yard dive and then added scoring strikes of 24 yards to Cody White, four yards to Alexander Coplan, and 15 yards to Remy Wasserbach.  Ball literally "had a ball" in kicking field goals of 40 and 46 yards.  The 46-yarder was just one yard shy of Erik Harris' best effort last season.

Stanton finished the game 37-for-48 for 468 yards and four touchdowns.  He also carried the ball 20 times for 72 yards and a score.  Sophomore receiver Zach Davis accounted for 10 receptions for 144 yards while Collins ended with five receptions for 139 yards.  Stanton distributed passes to 11 different receivers. 

Saddleback would end up running 94 offensive plays on the way to gaining 588 yards and controlling the time of possession, 36 minutes to 24 minutes.  El Camino was able to run 71 plays but was limited to 336 yards.  More than one-half of that yardage picked up in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of hand.

Zachary Wade led the Saddleback defense with six tackles, a tackle for lost yardage, and an interception while freshman linebacker Karson Block added four solo tackles and three pass break ups.

Stanton and the Gauchos will try to keep the momentum up as they host Palomar College at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday (September 26) in the campus stadium.