Stanton, a Nebraska bounceback from Santa Margarita HS, completed his first 11 passes on the night, amassing 154 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in the first quarter to stake Saddleback (10-2) to a 20-3 lead. The Gauchos would push their lead to 30-3 at the half and lead by at least 13 points the rest of the way.
Saddleback opened the scoring just 2:14 into the game when Stanton threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Cody White. After Long Beach (10-2) got a field goal from Sergio Garcia, Stanton answered with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Collins and a 22-yard scoring pass to White to give the Gauchos a 20-3 advantage after one quarter.
Aaron Ball booted a 34-yard field goal early in the second quarter for the Gauchos to push the lead to 23-3. Then Saddleback got a break when a shanked Long Beach punt went just 7 yards. Four plays later, speedy Marvin Marshall scored on a patented Saddleback jet sweep – always a prominent weapon in the arsenal of longtime Gaucho coach Mark McElroy – from 13 yards out to give Saddleback a 30-3 lead at the half.
Three Saddleback fumbles in the first 15:12 of the second half helped Long Beach get in the game. Mat Boesen recovered the first of these – Ikenna Ohaeri stripped the ball from Stanton – at the Gaucho 45, and eight plays later Jack Lowary threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Welch for the Vikings' first touchdown of the game. The second fumble was forced by Marcus Reynolds and halted a Saddleback scoring threat; lineman Shalom Tupua recovered and returned the ball just past midfield. The third came when London Iakopo knocked the ball out of Michael Neal's grasp and Royce Moore recovered for the Vikings at the Viking 45. Ten plays later Lowary scored on a 5-yard keeper to cut the deficit to 30-17.
LBCC tried a short, high kick on the ensuing kickoff, but Jojo Binda returned it 40 yards to the Viking 37. Four plays later, Stanton threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game and his second to White, this one from 5 yards out with 9:54 to make it 37-17. The Gaucho defense continued the momentum by forcing a three-and-out, though Viking receiver Mike Wilson just missed catching what appeared to be a likely touchdown pass after he got behind the Saddleback defense.
After getting the ball back with 8:31 to play, the Gaucho offense put together a 14-play, 64-yard drive that chewed up more than seven minutes and clinched the win. Along the way fullback Landon Cook made two key plays. First he gave Stanton a “Bush Push” on 4th down as the Gaucho quarterback picked up 2 yards on a fourth-and-inches. Then on the next play Binda lost the handle on the ball after taking a handoff. After several players tried to recover the bouncing spheroid, Cook finally fell on the ball at the 47 to retain possession for the Gauchos. Six plays later Zach Davis scored on an 11-yard run to make it 43-17 with 1:21, putting the game out of reach.
For Saddleback, Stanton completed 37 of 51 passes for 390 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also carried the ball 19 times for 102 yards. Davis led all receivers with 13 catches, good for 83 yards, and he also scored the final touchdown on an end-around. Collins had 9 catches for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns. White had 4 catches for 55 yards and 2 scores.
For Long Beach, Lowary completed 18 of 44 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for one score. Darren Johnson led Viking rushers with 69 yards on 16 carries. Welch led Long Beach receivers with 6 catches for 99 yards and a score.
Stanton was named the game's MVP. Defensive End Jeff Holsinger, who had 3 tackles for loss including a 12-yard sack, was named Saddleback's Player of the Game. Boesen, who had 2 tackles for loss and the fumble recovery and was a visible presense on the field all evening for Long Beach, was named the Vikings' Player of the Game.
The win advances Saddleback to the state championship game December 12th at City College of San Francisco. It's also the Gauchos' 10th straight win after starting the season with losses to Cerritos and Riverside. Saddleback reached the SoCal championship game by routing Riverside, 37-20, after taking a 30-0 halftime lead in last week's bowl game.
Saddleback Gauchos 43, Long Beach Vikings 17
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – 6 pm – Saddleback College, Mission Viejo
Southern California Championship Game
S – White 21 yd pass from Stanton (run failed) 12:46 (6-0)
LB – FG Garcia 33 yds 9:41 (6-3)
S – Collins 46 yd pass from Stanton (Ball kick) 4:01 (13-3)
S – White 22 yd pass from Stanton (Ball kick) 2:04 (20-3)
S – FG Ball 34 yds 9:18 (23-3)
S – Marshall 13 yd run (Ball kick) 6:37 (30-3)
LB – Welch 9 yd pass from Lowary (Garcia kick) 10:11 (30-10)
LB – Lowary 5 yd run (Garcia kick) 11:59 (30-17)
S – Collins 5 yd pass from Stanton (Ball kick) 9:54 (37-17)
S – Davis 17 yd run (kick blocked) 1:21 (43-17)
First Downs: Saddleback 32 (11 rush, 18 pass, 3 penalty), Long Beach 17 (5 rush, 9 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Saddleback 38-136, Long Beach 33-92
Passing Yds: Saddleback 390, Long Beach 190
Comp-Att-Int: Saddleback 37-51-0, Long Beach 18-44-2
Return Yds: Saddleback 120, Long Beach 209
Sacks-Yds: Saddleback 3-21, Long Beach 0-0
Fumbles-Lost: Saddleback 4-3, Long Beach 0-0
Penalties-Yds: Saddleback 5-60, Long Beach 7-48
Time of Possession: Saddleback 31:20, Long Beach 28:40
Rushing: S 4-Stanton 19-102, 5-Neal 7-21, 11-Davis 1-17, 22-Marshall 1-13, 1-Brock 3-7, 20-Binda 5-(-2), team 2-(-22); LB 24-D.Johnson 16-69, 8-Harris 10-38, 4-Scroggins 1-(-5), 19-Lowary 6-(-10)
Passing: S Johnny Stanton 37-51-0-390, 4 TDs; LB 19-Jack Lowary 18-44-2-190, 1 TD
Receiving: S 11-Zach Davis 11-83, 17-Dominic Collins 9-133, 88-White 4-55, 5-Neal 4-14, 20-Binda 3-14, 3-Rodgers 2-41, 15-Washington 1-33, 1-Brock 1-9, 81-Wasserbach 1-8; LB 5-Jacob Welch 6-99, 7-Watson 5-20, 24-D.Johnson 3-12, 1-Wilson 2-19, 11-Ohaeri 1-25, 87-Labarbera 1-15
Interceptions-Ret Yds: S 21-Ross 1-41, 45-Hickey 1-36; LB none
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: S none; LB 97-Tupua 1-45, 2-Moore 1-0, 6-Boesen 1-0
Sacks: S 42-Madkin, 57-Holsinger, 7-Wade ½, 31-Block ½; LB none
Punters: S 91-Manning 1-32; LB 17-Regpala 7-30.9 avg
Kick Returns: S 20-Binda 1-40; LB 7-Watson 4-68, 24-D.Johnson 3-72, 2-Webb 1-24
Punt Returns: S 3-Rodgers 1-3; LB none
Missed FG: S 92-Ball 41 yds (wide right), 45 yds (wide right); LB none
Notes: Saddleback wins its 10th straight game to improve to 10-2 and will face San Francisco in the state championship game 12/12. Long Beach finishes 10-2. Stanton completed his 1st 11 pass attempts (for 154 yds and 3 TDs) to stake Saddleback to a 20-3 lead. The 3rd TD came after Ross' interception. LBCC's 1st TD came after Boesen's fumble recovery (fumble forced by 11-Fatu). 10-Reynolds forced the fumble that Tupua recovered and returned past midfield. 22-Iakopo forced the fumble that Moore recovered, which helped set up LBCC's 2nd TD. But Binda's return of the ensuing kickoff to the LBCC 37 set up Saddleback's 5th TD and, after an LBCC punt, Saddleback ran 7:10 off the clock on its last TD drive to clinch the win.
Saddleback Player of the Game: Holsinger.
Long Beach Player of the Game: Boesen.