Early on, it looked like Saddleback was going to make it a rout. On their first drive, about the only things slowing down their offense was a propensity to commit false start penalties. Rabb jumped early twice in a row at one point, turning a 3rd and 3 into a 3rd and 13. But he quickly atoned, catching a 16-yard pass on the next play for the first down. After an 8-yard pass from Brennan to Quincy Lever, Rabb caught a 13-yard pass to get the ball to the Hornet 30. Then came a 12-yard run by Cheyne Verhagen, who would finish the day with 156 yards. And on the next play, Brennan threw an 18-yard TD pass to Rabb that gave Saddleback the lead just 2:46 into the game.
After Fullerton ran 3 plays and punted, Saddleback got the ball at their 33 and, just like the first drive, needed just 7 plays to reach the end zone. Brennan again got things started, throwing an 8-yard pass to Lever. But Verhagen made three big plays for the Gauchos. First, he gained 14 yards on a run to get the ball into Hornet territory. Then after another false start penalty – the Gauchos' fourth of the game – Verhagen broke through for a 20-yard run. And on the next play, an errant snap sailed over Brennan's head, but Verhagen recovered for the Gauchos. Brennan made up the lost yardage with a 14-yard pass to Matt White, and then he hit Lever for a 30-yard pass to make it 14-0 just over 8 minutes into the game.
It almost got even worse for Fullerton when Dontrell Mitchell returned the ensuing kickoff and was stopped at the Hornet 5-yard line. Three plays netted just 1 yard, and after David Kline's 30-yard punt Saddleback was again in scoring position at the 36. They reached the 16 on a pair of runs by Brennan, but that's where the drive stalled. Two penalties, including a false start (#6) slowed Saddleback's progress and they soon faced 3rd and 13. Brennan went back to pass, but was sacked for a 3-yard loss by Fullerton's Joel Janke and Johnny O'Quinn. Then on 4th down, Brennan again dropped back but was again sacked, this time by Johnathan Haynes, turning the ball over to the Hornets.
And moments later Fullerton got on the board when Casey Whieldon threw a short pass to Curtis Barfield, who ran towards the left sideline and into the end zone for a 63-yard TD play. He got several nice blocks, including a bone-jarring hit by fellow WR Chris Selinsky, to spring him. That made it 14-7 with 7 seconds left in the first quarter.
Saddleback answered back with a big play of their won early in the second quarter to restore their 14-point lead. Brennan threw a short pass to Dominic Peterson, who used a quick spin to free himself of a defender. Then he cut back across the middle of the field and sped into the end zone. The 45-yard scoring play made it 21-7.
Fullerton nearly generated another big play when they got the ball back as Alfred Guidry burst through the line. With nobody else in front of Guidry, one Gaucho defender grabbed his ankle and held on, making it a 7-yard gain instead of a 65-yard TD play. And two plays later Rafael Rice was stopped for no gain on 4th and 1, turning the ball back over to Saddleback at the Hornet 44. The Gauchos nearly cashed in on the opportunity when they used a flea-flicker and Brennan found Lever wide open near the 15. But Lever couldn't make the catch, and Saddleback soon had to punt.
When they got the ball back, Fullerton broke off another big play when Rice burst through the line for a 64-yard gain to the Gaucho 16-yard line. As Rice raced down the left sideline, Saddleback's Peterson closed in, grabbed some jersey and pulled him out of bounds. That bit of hustle became even more important when Guidry fumbled two plays later and Alsid Panteau recovered for Saddleback at the 2. That kept the score 21-7, which is where things stood at the half.
Fullerton took the second half kickoff and nearly cut the margin to 7 on a 67-yard TD pass from Whieldon to Guidry. But the play was called back due to a holding penalty, and Fullerton soon had to punt. Then Saddleback nearly put the game out of reach when Verhagen nearly scored on a 7-yard run after a short drive but was stopped near the goal line. And after yet another false start penalty (#8 on the day) Brennan tried to run for the score. But as he was hit, the ball popped out. Fullerton's Steven Randolph picked up the ball in stride and took it the length of the field for a 96-yard touchdown return for the Hornets. Suddenly, Fullerton was back in the game and were fired up. Camron Carmona put a huge hit on Rabb to break up a pass on 3rd down in Saddleback's next series to give Fullerton the ball with a chance to tie the score.
But the Saddleback defense refused to let that happen. First, they stopped the next Fullerton drive at midfield, forcing a punt. Fullerton got the ball back moments later when Kenny Stiger intercepted a Brennan pass at the Hornet 48. But two plays later, QB Justin Turner, just inserted into the game, couldn't handle a snap and Saddleback's Paul Como recovered at the 37 for the Gauchos.
That's when Brennan and Rabb teamed up to restore Saddleback's 14-point margin once again. Facing a 3rd and 31 at their own 44 (after a sack and, yes, another false start penalty) Brennan lofted a pass downfield. The 6-3 Rabb looked like Randy Moss as he stopped, jumped and reached over a defender for the ball for a 33-yard gain and the first down. Two plays later, Verhagen powered into the end zone from the 3 to make it 28-14.
After the Saddleback defense forced another Fullerton punt, their offense drove for another score to put the game away. Beginning with a 12-yard run by Verhagen, the Gauchos drove 61 yards on 9 plays, all the while chewing time off the clock. By the time Derik Martinez' 27-yard field goal sailed through the uprights, only 6:47 remained in the game. And Saddleback now led, 31-14.
Fullerton wasn't quite done yet, and they nearly scored quickly once again. But once again, a holding penalty wiped out what would have been a 43-yard TD pass from Whieldon (back in the game) to Barfield. The Hornets eventually scored on a 2-yard run by Guidry, but by then only 3:21 remained. On the ensuing kickoff, Fullerton tried an onsides kick, but Saddleback's Chad Moline recovered at their 41.
Fullerton used its timeouts and the defense soon forced a 3rd and 7, but then Rabb reprised his Randy Moss impression, leaping high into the air and grab a Brennan pass away from the defense and get the first down. That last 32-yard catch gave him 10 for the day and clinched the win for Saddleback, which then just ran out the clock.
The Saddleback win sets up a Mission Conference – National Divisoin showdown at El Camino next Saturday in a game that could well decide the #1 seed in the Southern California playoffs. Meanwhile, Fullerton will play at Santa Ana in an effort to break a 2-game losing streak and keep their postseason hopes alive.
S – Rabb 18 yd pass from Brennan (Martinez kick) 12:14 -- 7-0
S – Lever 30 yd pass from Brennan (Martinez kick) 6:49 -- 14-0
F – Barfield 63 yd pass from Whieldon (M.Garcia kick) 0:07 -- 14-7
S – Peterson 45 yd pass from Brennan (Martinez kick) 12:25 -- 21-7
F – Randolph 96 yd fumble return (M.Garcia kick) 8:34 -- 21-14
S – Verhagen 3 yd run (Martinez kick) 12:20 -- 28-14
S – FG Martinez 27 yds 6:47 -- 31-14
F – Guidry 2 yd run (M.Garcia kick) 3:21 -- 31-21
|First Downs||10 (4 run; 6 pass)||27 (11 run;13 pass; 3 pen)|
|Rushes – Yards||28-171||48-173|
|Comp - Att – Int||10-22-2||21-30-2|
|Sacks – Yards||4-24||0-0|
|Fumbles – Lost||3-2||3-1|
|Penalties – Yards||12-109||14-85|
|Time of Possession||22:23||37:27|
Rushing: F: 2-Rice 17-123, 1-Guidry 9-34, 14-Whieldon 1-15, 3-Turner 1-(-1) S: 27-Verhagen 26-156, 32-James 5-20, 4-Prescott 1-11, 48-Moline 2-7, 15-Brennan 7-5, 1-Rabb 2-1, team 4-(-27)
Passing: F: 14-C.Whieldon 10-21-0-196, 1 TD; 3-Turner 0-1-0-0 S: 15-Brennan 21-30-2-348, 3 TDs
Receiving: F: 3-Barfield 3-84, 10-Parker 1-39, 1-Guidry 1-29, 13-Scott 1-18, 80-Taska 1-16, 7-Jones 1-5, 83-Weeks 1-5, 5-Dodson 1-0 S: 1-Rabb 10-175, 21-Lever 5-65, 10-White 3-30, 6-Peterson 1-45, 44-Webster 1-19, 27-Verhagen 1-14
Int-Ret Yds: F: 36-Stiger 2-0
Sacks: F: 54-Janke 1½, 30-Haynes, 42-Tabatabai, 79-O'Quinn ½
Fum Rec-R Yds: F: 6-Randolph 1-96 S: 30-Panteau 1-0, 35-Como 1-0
Punters: F: 46-Kline 6-33.8 avg S: 17-Larson 2-43.0 avg
Kick Ret: F: 23-Mitchell 2-35 S: 31-Atiba 2-47
Punt Ret: F: none S: 3-Moon 1-2Notes: Saddleback entered 6-1, #6 in South. Fullerton entered 5-2, #8 in South. This was the first game of the Mission Bash doubleheader; Fullerton was the home team. Guidry and Barfield of Fullerton both had long TDs called back because of penalties. 48-Moline recovered an onsides kick for Saddleback after Fullerton's last TD.