Saddleback Topples Mt. SAC

Tim Belman passed for 356 yards and 4 touchdowns, and the Saddleback defense forced 7 turnovers, including 3 interceptions by Laquan Middleton as the visiting Gauchos stunned preseason #1-ranked Mt. San Antonio in the season opener for both teams Saturday afternoon.

On a blistering hot day - in-game temperatures were around 100 degrees with no clouds in sight - Saddleback took over the game in the second half. The Gauchos controlled the ball for nearly 22 of the 30 minutes, breaking a 14-14 halftime tie and ending Mt. San Antonio's 16-game regular season win streak that dated back to September 2011 and Mt. SAC's 18-game home regular season win streak that dated back to a September 2009 loss, appropriately enough, to Saddleback.

And the Saddleback win came despite a spectacular game by Mt. SAC receiver and return man Kaelin Clay, who set a new school record with 367 all-purpose yards. He also scored two of the three Mt. SAC touchdowns, reaching the end zone after a 75-yard punt return in the first quarter and a 96-yard touchdown pass from Rocky Moore in the third quarter. The 96-yard reception is the second-longest in Mt. SAC history, trailing only a 97-yard scoring pass in 1979.

But it was Saddleback and quarterback Belman, with a lot of help from receivers R.J. Dedrick, Dominick Ela and tight end Chris French, as well as the playmaking Gaucho defense that took control of the game. The Gauchos had 5 touchdown passes on the afternoon, and scored 4 touchdowns immediately after Mt. SAC turnovers.

Saddleback scored the game's first touchdown when backup quarterback Mike Morin - in the game as mainly as a run threat - faked a run into the line and then stopped and lobbed a 3-yard touchdown pass to defensive end-turned tight end R.J. Kelly with 5:04 left in the first quarter. That came 5 plays after an interception by Saddleback's, Langden Lapp, the first of the 7 turnovers on the day, who returned the ball to the Mt. SAC 22.

Mt. SAC got even in a hurry when Clay received a punt at his own 25 and, after nearly being tripped by the initial coverage, sprinted away and down the right sideline for a 75-yard touchdown run. But Saddleback got another turnover - this time a fumble recovery by James BoisD'enghien - and that led to another Gaucho score. Belman threw his first touchdown pass of the game, a 13-yard strike to Dedrick, with 4:22 left in the first half to put Saddleback back in front, 14-7.

Mt. SAC got another touchdown before the end of the half, and Clay was in the middle of the action again. In fact, he was a toenail away from scoring the touchdown himself after catching a pass from Rocky Moore and heading towards the end zone. He was tripped up by Saddleback's Davontae Merriweather at the 7, but two plays later Moore threw a touchdown pass to Romell Smothers to even the score at 14 at the break.

In the second half, however, Saddleback took control of the game, starting with a 10-play, 75-yard drive from the kickoff that ended with Belman throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dedrick. Then came an interception by Middleton, his second of the game, and that led to an 11-play Saddleback drive that saw the Gauchos push the lead to 27-14 after a 1-yard scoring run by Morin. Matthew Boermeester added a field goal with 4:50 left in the quarter to make it 30-14.

Mt. SAC had one last flurry of activity, which provided the most electrifying play of the day later in the quarter. After a Mt. SAC punt, Saddleback drove well into Mountie territory on its next drive before an interception by Dallas Deville halted the threat. He was ruled out of bounds at the Mt. SAC 2 yard-line, however, and even after a 2-yard run on first down Mt. SAC quarterback Moore was operating in the shadow of his own goalpost on second down.

But Moore lofted a pass down the left hash marks, which hit Clay in stride at about the 30. Clay then outsprinted the Gaucho defenders for an amazing 96-yard touchdown reception to make it 30-20. A quick check of the Mt. SAC record book revealed that it was the second-longest such play in school history, trailing only a 97-yard pass from Matt Hohensee to Clint Sampson in 1979.

However, that would be Mt. SAC's last gasp of the day. Saddleback answered with another grueling drive through the heat, slogging 75 yards in 12 plays and pushing the lead to 37-20 on Belman's 10-yard touchdown pass to French 34 seconds into the fourth quarter. After another turnover - Middleton's third interception of the game - Belman tossed his fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 7-yarder to Dominick Ela with 8:14 left, to close out the scoring.

For Saddleback, Belman completed 35 of 58 passes for 356 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Morin completed both of his pass attempts for 9 yards and a score, and he also ran for a touchdown. Dedrick led Gaucho receivers with 113 yards on 13 receptions, while Ela also reached the century mark with 100 yards on 6 catches. French had 8 catches for 70 yards. Overall Saddleback ran an astounding total of 107 plays on offense - compared to just 66 for Mt. SAC - which had a noticeable effect on the Mountie defense.

For Mt. SAC, Clay was spectacular with 4 catches for 145 yards, 6 kickoff returns for 147 yards and the 75-yard punt return. Moore, who relieved starting quarterback Justin Alo in the second quarter, completed 18 of 30 passes for 221 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Saddleback Gauchos 44 Mt. San Antonio Mounties 20

Saturday, September 7, 2013 - 1 pm - Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Walnut
National Division

1st Quarter:  
S - Kelly 3 yd pass from Morin (Boermeester kick) 5:04 (7-0)
M - Clay 75 yd punt return (Hageman kick) 2:10 (7-7)

2nd Quarter:
S - Dedrick 13 yd pass from Belman (Boermeester kick) 4:22 (14-7)
M - Smothers 7 yd pass from Moore (Hageman kick) 0:57 (14-14)

3rd Quarter:
S - Dedrick 7 yd pass from Belman (kick hit upright) 12:42 (20-14)
S - Morin 1 yd run (Boermeester kick) 8:22 (27-14)
S - FG Boermeester 32 yds 4:50 (30-14)
M - Clay 96 yd pass from Moore (pass incomplete) 2:33 (30-20)

4th Quarter:
S - French 10 yd pass from Belman (Boermeester kick) 14:26 (37-20)
S - Ela 7 yd pass from Belman (Boermeester kick) 8:14 (44-20)

Team Statistics:

First Downs: Mt. SAC 17 (6 rush, 9 pass, 2 penalty), Saddleback 32 (7 rush, 22 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Mt. SAC 21-89, Saddleback 46-114
Passing Yds: Mt. SAC 248, Saddleback 364
Comp-Att-Int: Mt. SAC 22-45-6, Saddleback 38-61-2
Return Yds: Mt. SAC 250, Saddleback 133
Sacks-Yds: Mt. SAC 2-12, Saddleback 0-0
Fumbles-Lost: Mt. SAC 1-1, Saddleback 2-0
Penalties-Yds: Mt. SAC 12-97, Saddleback 6-48
Time of Possession: Mt. SAC 24:25, Saddleback 35:35

Individual Statistics:

Rushing: M 20-Overton 9-49, 4-Gregory 8-28, 6-Alo 3-12, 18-Moore 1-0; S 27-Simonsen 13-63, 21-Stone 13-26, 1-Morin 4-19, 28-Murphy 6-14, 10-Griggs 2-4, 8-Dedrick 1-0, 18-Moss 1-(-6), 4-Belman 6-(-6)
Passing:   M 18-Moore 18-30-2-221, 2 TDs; 6-Alo 4-15-4-27; S 4-Belman 35-58-2-356, 4 TDs; 1-Morin 2-2-0-9, 1 TD; 12-Berg 1-1-0-(-1)
Receiving:   M 8-Dotson 5-30, 1-Clay 4-145, 10-Smothers 3-31, 20-Overton 3-6, 80-Perry-Kruse 2-6, 88-Rhodes 1-14, 14-Simpson 1-5, 49-Thropay 1-5, 22-Holmes 1-4, 19-Williams 1-2; S 8-Dedrick 11-113, 85-French 8-70, 7-Ela 6-100, 28-Murphy 3-11, 32-Ramos 2-25, 10-Griggs 2-19, 27-Murphy 2-12, 21-Stone 2-0, 18-Moss 1-11, 80-Kelly 1-3
Interceptions-Ret Yds: M 76-Polamalu 1-5, 37-Deville 1-0; S 8-Middleton 3-53, 20-Seebold 1-25, 40-Lapp 1-12, 42-BoisD'enghien 1-0
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: M none; S 42-BoisD'enghien 1-0
Sacks-Yds: M 91-Maloata 1-8, 99-Walters 1-4; S none
Punters:   M 62-Hageman 4-42.3 avg; 61-Fulham 3-29.0 avg; S 91-Ritchie 4-39.0 avg; 4-Belman 3-33.7 avg
Kick Returns: M 1-Clay 6-147, 20-Overton 1-23; S 18-Moss 1-19
Punt Returns: M 1-Clay 1-75; S 33-Arkfeld 2-22, 9-Ruggles 1-2
Missed FG: none

Notes: UPSET! Mt. SAC entered ranked #1 in Calif and #2 in nation ( in preseason rankings and with a 16-game regular season win streak. Saddleback entered ranked #13 in Calif. Four Saddleback TDs came after Mt. SAC turnovers, including Kelly's catch (5 plays after Lapp's int). Alo started at QB for Mt. SAC; after 2 interceptions Moore replaced him in 2nd quarter. Belman was regular Saddleback QB; Morin played a few snaps as run threat/wildcat though he also threw 2 passes including the 1st TD. Saddleback held the ball for 21:56 in the 2nd half. Clay is believed to have set a Mt. SAC school record with 367 all-purpose yards (old record was listed in program as 284, set in 1993) and his 96-yd TD catch is second-longest in school history (behind a 97-yarder in 1979).

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