The only touchdown of the first half came when the Gauchos had running back Jai Morris throw a halfback option pass to a wide-open Tre Villahermosa down the right sideline for a 61-yard scoring strike 8:36 into the game. But Saddleback would never surrender the lead, finally securing the win after an amazing test of wills at the Mt. SAC goal line in the final minutes ended with Keegan Gogerty scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:55 left to make it 24-14.
Villahermosa's touchdown was the only one of a first half dominated by the defenses. Saddleback had two glorious chances to extend its lead later in the quarter, but came away with just three more points to take a 10-0 halftime lead. On the kickoff following the touchdown, Mt. SAC's Ahmere Owens lost the ball on the return and D.J. Gallegos recovered for the Gauchos at the 19. But Saddleback came away empty when four offensive penalties pushed the Gauchos back to the 42. Then on Mt. SAC's next series, punter Ian Campbell tried an ill-advised fake punt play that gave the Gauchos the ball at the 18. Saddleback got as close as the Mt. SAC 5, but then a sack by Kenneth Kamauoha and Manoa Latu pushed the Gauchos back, and Saddleback had to settle for a Michael Frisina field goal that made it 10-0.
Neither team came close to scoring in the second quarter, but when the third quarter both offenses put together scoring drives. Mt. SAC struck first with a quick, 3-play drive, all on pass plays, that ended with a 32-yard scoring pass from Tyler Vanderzee to Chase Alcott that cut Saddleback's lead to 10-7. But the Gauchos immediately answered with a 10-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard pass from David Ingram to 6-8 receiver T.J. Knowles, pushing Saddleback's lead back to 10 at 17-7.
After that, the defenses again asserted themselves. Mt. SAC turned the ball over on downs at the Gaucho 46, and then the teams combined for 5 straight punts before Mt. SAC got the ball at its own 24 with 11:20 left. The Mounties then turned back to the air, completing a pair of passes to Jesse Canada for 23 and 19 yards, sandwiched around a penalty on Saddleback. Then Vanderzee threw towards Canada in the end zone; the ball fell to the turf, but the Gaucho defender was called for an obvious pass interference penalty, putting the ball on the 2. On the next play, Lancer Iosefa plowed into the end zone for a touchdown that made it a 3-point game at 17-14 with 10:04 remaining.
And Mt. SAC got the ball back moments later when Lino Tuifalasai recovered a Charles Neal fumble, giving the Mounties possession with 8:50 remaining. However, Saddleback got the ball back just three plays later when Richard Crawford made an acrobatic catch of a Vanderzee throw for an interception at midfield with 7:58 left.
Saddleback steadily moved deep into Mt. SAC territory. A 9-yard pass from Ingram to Gogerty, a 7-yard run by Morris, a 13-yard run by Neal and an 8-yard run by Neal got the Gauchos close. Then a 6-yard run by big Kory Johnson got the ball to the Mt. SAC 1 yard line.
That would set off one of the great goal-line confrontations of the season. Saddleback wound up running six straight plays from the 1 yard line. A quarterback sneak by Ingram was stopped for no gain. Then a run by Johnson, also stopped for no gain. Now it was 4th and goal and Saddleback lined up to kick a field goal. But the Gauchos ran a fake play, with holder Cameron Chadwick throwing a short pass to Johnson, who was stopped at the 1 for no gain. However, there was a flag on the play, a personal foul penalty against Mt. SAC on the tackle (either facemask or horse collar). Then came an incomplete pass. Then a run by Joshua Andrews, once more stopped for no gain at the Mt. SAC 1 yard line.
Finally, on the sixth play from the 1, Gogerty found a way into the end zone and scored on a 1-yard run. That made it 24-14 with 1:55 left, finally clinching the win for the Gauchos.
For Saddleback, Ingram played most of the way at quarterback and completed 15 of 30 passes for 107 yards, no interceptions and a TD. Morris led all rushers with 52 yards on 14 carries, and also threw the halfback option pass that brought Saddleback's first touchdown. Villahermosa caught that halfback option pass and finished with a team-high 74 yards receiving on two catches, while Aziz Spellman-Smith led all receivers with 6 catches, good for 50 yards. Linebacker Jason Young led the defense with a pair of quarterback sacks, and Crawford's key interception led to the final touchdown.
For Mt. SAC, Vanderzee completed 18 of 32 passes for 218 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He started in place of Matt Faulkner, who took a helmet to the knee recently but is expected to return for the Mounties' next game. Burton Iosefa led Mt. SAC with 46 yards on the ground on 14 carries. Canada had 5 catches for 88 yards, and Alcott had 5 catches for 68 yards before injuring his leg late in the game and leaving the field via ambulance. Bruce Irvin, who had one sack and was a visible presence on the field all afternoon, and defensive tackle Fuifalasai led the Mt. SAC defense.
Saddleback Gauchos 24
Mt. San Antonio Mounties 14
Saturday, September 26, 2009 - 1 pm - Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Walnut
S - Villahermosa 61 yd pass from Morris (Frisina kick) 6:24 (7-0)
S - FG Frisina 40 yds 0:30 (10-0)
M - Alcott 32 yd pass from Vanderzee (Brown kick) 11:57 (10-7)
S - Knowles 7 yd pass from Ingram (Frisina kick) 6:28 (17-7)
M - L. Iosefa 2 yd run (Brown kick) 10:04 (17-14)
S - Gogerty 1 yd run (Frisina kick) 1:55 (24-14)
First Downs: Mt. San Antonio 17 (3 rush, 12 pass, 2 penalty), Saddleback 19 (7 rush, 8 pass, 4 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 33-58, Saddleback 37-95
Passing Yds: Mt. San Antonio 218, Saddleback 171
Comp-Att-Int: Mt. San Antonio 18-32-1, Saddleback 21-39-1
Return Yds: Mt. San Antonio 70, Saddleback 95
Sacks-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 2-15, Saddleback 2-14
Fumbles-Lost: Mt. San Antonio 2-1, Saddleback 1-1
Penalties-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 7-59, Saddleback 13-102
Time of Possession: Mt. San Antonio 25:55, Saddleback 34:05
Rushing: M 29-B.Iosefa 14-46, 3-McBride 6-7, 28-L.Iosefa 3-6, 12-Vanderzee 7-6, 24-Foreman 1-0, 46-Campbell 1-(-1), team 1-(-6); S 5-Morris 14-52, 24-Neal 7-34, 45-Johnson 3-10, 23-Gogerty 4-9, 32-C.Woods 1-0, 44-Andrews 1-0, 6-Ingram 7-(-10)
Passing: M 12-Vanderzee 18-32-1-218, 1 TD; S 6-Ingram 15-30-0-107, 1 TD; 5-Morris 1-1-0-61, 1 TD; 17-Curtis 4-7-1-3; 21-Chadwick 1-1-0-0
Receiving: M 4-Canada 5-88, 16-Alcott 5-68, 5-Thomas 3-27, 6-Sherman 2-23, 3-McBride 1-5, 22-Owens 1-4, 29-B.Iosefa 1-3; S 7-Spellman-Smith 6-50, 23-Gogerty 4-10, 5-Morris 4-5, 13-Knowles 3-29, 3-Villahermosa 2-74, 8-Boles 1-3, 45-Johnson 1-0
Interceptions-Ret Yds: M 8-Murray 1-0; S 2-Crawford 1-0
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: M 99-Tuifalasai 1-0; S 16-Gallegos 1-0
Sacks: M 11-Irvin, 7-Kamauoha 1/2, 15-Latu 1/2; S 33-Young 2
Punters: M 46-Campbell 7-37.8 avg; S 90-Keseloff 8-37.5 avg
Kick Returns: M 3-McBride 2-47, 22-Owens 1-3; S 10-Brewster 2-50
Punt Returns: M 22-Owens 2-20; S 2-Crawford 3-45
Missed FG: none
Notes: Both teams entered 3-0; Mt. SAC was ranked #2 in South, #3 in California and #5 in nation (JC Grid-Wire) while Saddleback was ranked #6 in South, #9 in California and #16 in nation. Vanderzee started for Mt. SAC in place of injured Matt Faulkner; Ingram started for Saddleback. Saddleback's 1st TD came on halfback option. On the ensuing kickoff, Gallegos recovered an Owens fumble at the Mt. SAC 19 but after 4 offensive penalties the Gauchos came away empty. Then on Mt. SAC's next series, Campbell tried to run for the 1st on a fake punt and was stopped at the Mountie 18; that set up Saddleback's FG. Mt. SAC had the ball in the 4th but Crawford's interception at midfield got it back for Saddleback. The Gauchos then drove for the clinching TD but it didn't come easy as they ran 6 straight plays, including a fake field goal (Chadwick's pass to Johnson, which ended with a personal foul penalty on Mt. SAC), from the 1 yard-line (Gogerty's TD came on the 6th one). With 12 seconds left Alcott suffered an apparent leg injury and was carried off in an ambulance.