El Camino Roars Past Saddleback

Newly-anointed #1 (JC Grid-Wire) El Camino looked every bit the part in a dominant 35-7 win over visiting Saddleback that propelled the Warriors to their first 10-0 regular season since 1989.  Brian Flowers rushed for 130 yards and scored 2 TDs, Lyle Moevao passed for 3 touchdowns and the defense held the Gauchos to just 190 yards and 7 points as El Camino avenged last year's overtime loss to Saddleback and claimed outright the Mission Conference National Division championship.

It was an impressive all-around performance by a team without any apparent weaknesses.  Flowers led a rushing attack that piled up 245 yards on the ground while Moevao spread the ball around, completing passes to nine different receivers.  The Warrior offense piled up 402 yards of offense, controlled the ball for 37:13 (to 22:47 for Saddleback) and committed just one turnover, which came on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half.  And the defense was equally impressive in controlling the Gaucho attack, holding Saddleback scoreless in the second half.  About the only visible problem was a proclivity for false start penalties (El Camino had about a half-dozen), which might be explained by the fact that when a team is so dominant it's sometimes difficult to wait until the play is supposed to start.

El Camino took the opening kickoff and drove down the field for a touchdown just 3:31 into the game.  Flowers carried 5 times for 52 yards on the drive, including a 40-yard burst that got the ball to the 1-yard line and a 1-yard plunge that gave the Warriors the lead.  The other two plays were a pair of first-down producing passes from Moevao to 6-3, 235-pound Marcel Reece.

When Saddleback got the ball, things did not go smoothly at all for the Gaucho offense.  Quarterback Nick Nelson was sacked for a 2-yard loss on first down, and after a 4-yard pass to Daniel Dixon on second down, Nelson threw to Dixon again on third down.  Dixon lost the ball, but Saddleback's Adam Goodman was there to recover the fumble and avert disaster and allowing the Gauchos to punt the ball away.

But that just meant that El Camino would have to drive further for their next touchdown, which they did.  When the Warriors got the ball back after the punt, they embarked on a 12-play, 62-yard drive that chewed up nearly 7 minutes off the clock.  Moevao threw to Devin Adair, who made an acrobatic catch in the end zone, for the final 22 yards of the drive that made it 14-0.

When Saddleback got the ball back, the Gauchos cut the margin to 7 with a long drive of their own.  After a 31-yard kickoff return by Ashton White got the ball to the 43, the Gauchos marched down the field on a 9-play drive that took nearly 5 minutes.  Nelson threw to Matt White for the final 8 yards to make it 14-7 just under two minutes into the second quarter.  However, that would be Saddleback's only score of the game.

El Camino extended its lead on its next possession, giving the Warriors touchdowns on their first three offensive drives of the night.  A 22-yard run by Flowers got the ball into Saddleback territory, and Moevao completed the drive by throwing a 3-yard TD pass to Flowers on the drive's 9th play.  That made it 21-7 midway through the second quarter.

And the outcome of the game was never really in doubt after that.  Saddleback drove to the El Camino 35 on its next drive, but a 10-yard sack of Nelson by Vili Ngata on third down from the 40 forced a Saddleback punt.  El Camino was unable to cash in on its final possession of the half when a Hail Mary pass was intercepted in the end zone by Saddleback's Earl Watson on the last play of the half, but that just meant that the Warrior lead remained at 14.  And it would soon grow from that margin.

After an exchange of punts to begin the second half, El Camino got the ball back when Nate Ness intercepted a Nelson pass and returned it to the Gaucho 43.  Two plays later, Moevao threw to Reece for 26 yards to give the Warriors a first and goal at the 5.  Three plays later, Moevao connected with Reece again for a TD, making it 28-7.

Neither team scored again until El Camino got a touchdown from backup running back Jamicah Bass.  After an interception by Chris Caso, the Warriors kept the ball on the ground in an effort to run out the clock.  But Bass' 25-yard run put El Camino in scoring range once again, and three plays later he scored from 1 yard out to complete the scoring with just under 4 minutes left in the game.

For El Camino, Moevao completed 18 of 26 passes for 167 yards and 3 TDs.   He missed one series early in the fourth quarter after being tackled hard by Saddleback's Zach Clarke, but returned midway through the fourth quarter.  Reece led Warrior receivers with 6 catches for 70 yards and a TD.  Flowers gained a game-high 130 yards but Bass wasn't far behind with 92 and a touchdown on just 12 carries.  Caso had an interception and part of a sack for the defense.  And even special teams were strong for El Camino:  Kayne Farquharson gained 49 yards on 2 punt returns while punter Oscar De Alba averaged 43 yards on a pair of punts.

For Saddleback, Nelson finished 19 of 31 for 134 yards, 2 interceptions and a touchdown.  P.T. Gates managed 65 yards on 9 carries on the ground, but the Gauchos were held to just 56 yards rushing on 17 carries for the game.  Daniel Dixon caught a team-best 6 passes for 42 yards, and he also rushed for 17 yards on 3 carries.  Punter Andrew Larson had a strong game with a 44.5-yard average on 4 punts including a 56-yarder.

El Camino College (Warriors)  35
Saddleback College  (Gauchos)  7 

1st Quarter:

EC – Flowers 1 yd run (De Alba kick) 11:29  -- 7-0
EC – Adair 22 yd pass from Moevao (De Alba kick) 3:02 -- 14-0 

2nd Quarter:

S – M.White 8 yd pass from Nelson (Martinez kick) 13:19 -- 14-7
EC – Flowers 3 yd pass from Moevao (De Alba kick) 8:19 -- 21-7 

3rd Quarter:

EC – Reece 5 yd pass from Moevao (De Alba kick) 6:35 -- 28-7

4th Quarter:

EC – Bass 1 yd run (De Alba kick) 3:51 -- 35-7

Team Statistics: El Camino Saddleback
First Downs 23 (12 run; 8 pass; 3 penalty) 14 (4 run; 10 pass)
Rushes – Yards 43-245 17-56
Passing Yards 167 134
Comp - Att – Int 18-29-1 19-31-2
Return Yards 102 129
Sacks – Yards 3-30 0-0
Fumbles – Lost 1-0 4-0
Penalties – Yards 11-65 8-45
Time of Possession 37:13 22:47

Individual Statistics:

Rushing: EC:  4-Flowers 19-130, 23-Bass 11-92, 31-Alaimalo 4-19, 35-Butler 1-5, 28-Knight 2-1, 5-Moevao 3-1, 48-Barber 1-(-1), 6-Irving 2-(-2) S:  9-Gates 9-65, 3-Dixon 3-17, 10-Nelson 5-(-26)

Passing: EC:  5-Moevao 18-26-1-167, 3 TDs; 3-Poole 0-3-0-0  S:  10-Nelson 19-31-2-134, 1 TD

Receiving: EC:  2-Reece 6-70, 22-Laolagi 3-13, 1-Adair 2-31, 80-Taylor 2-13, 31-Alaimalo 1-14, 9-Farquharson 1-9, 17-Franks 1-8, 49-Myles 1-6, 4-Flowers 1-3 S:  3-Dixon 6-42, 4-Lever 5-41, 9-Gates 3-1, 83-DePontes 2-29, 11-M.White 1-8, 81-Ruiz 1-8, 80-Goodman 1-5

Int-Ret Yds: EC:  32-Ness 1-10, 33-Caso 1-0 S  48-Wilson 1-17

Sacks: EC:  92-Ngata, 7-Tuihalamaka ½, 33-Caso ½, 85-Manu ½, 99-Gnodle ½ 

Punters: EC:  15-De Alba 2-43.0 avg S:  6-Larson 4-44.5 avg

Kick Ret: EC:  12-McClendon 2-43 S:  12-A.White 4-91, 20-Lewis-Maryland 1-20

Punt Ret: EC:  9-Farquharson 2-49 S:  2-Vinson 1-1

Notes:    El Camino goes to 10-0; they entered #1 in the nation (JC Grid-Wire) but #2 in the South (COA). Saddleback falls to 6-4, 4-1 in the Mission-National.  They were ranked #8 in South, t-#25 JCGW. This game was just a bit different from last year's OT thriller (Saddleback won, 37-34). Moevao missed the first series in the 4th qtr after a tackle by 55-Clarke; Poole (last year's starter) took his place at QB for El Camino.  Moevao returned the next series.


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