#14 Gauchos defeat #2 Mounties in season opener

Gaucho defensive back Laquan Middleton fully extends himself to pick the ball off for one of three interceptions on the day. (Adam Kolvites)

Adam Kolvites

Saddleback College’s football team defeated Mt. San Antonio away at Hilmer Lodge Stadium, 44-20, on Sept. 7, in the non-conference season opener.

Although last season the Mounties were victorious in both of these non-conference matchups, Saddleback overcame the losses and hammered the final nails in the coffin with offensive and defensive triumphs in the fourth quarter starting the season off with a record of 1-0.

Gaucho Head Coach Mark McElroy said, “Anytime you can win your first game it’s good. Anytime you can beat a team at a program that is outstanding as they make it even better.”

While both teams produced positive results on both side of the ball, Saddlebacks defense showcased why the defense wins games. McElroy said, “The defense really forcing all those turnovers made a huge difference for us, and it put the offense in a great position.”

Gauchos’ defense forced seven turnovers on the Mounties game. Gaucho sophomore corner back  Laquan Middleton  lead the defense in interceptions, picking off the football three times while freshman safety Langden Lapp, sophomore safety Doug Ruggles, and sophomore linebacker James BoisD’enghien matched his total of grabbed interceptions. Gaucho’s defense also forced a fumble by the hands of freshman linebacker Ka’ena Paikai in the second quarter.

Middleton said, “…we practiced hard, we came out here and played hard, and we executed.” Even though the defense had seven turnovers Middleton said, “There’s always room for improvement, once we watch the game film we’ll see the little areas where we need improvement, and just go from there.”

Three Gaucho quarterbacks lead the Gauchos to the victory, sophomores Tim Belman, Matt Morin, and freshman Anthony Berg. Morin drove back two opposing tacklers into the end zone for a rushing touchdown in the second quarter, while Belman threw touchdowns in all four quarters of the game.

Belman threw 5 touchdowns for a total of 359 yards completing 36 out of 59 passes. Belman’s first touchdown was a short 3-yard pass to sophomore receiver R.J. Kelly on a drive of five plays. He threw two touchdowns in a row to freshman wide receiver RJ Dedrick once in the second and third quarter. Dedrick caught the ball for 110 yards on the day with a long of 14. During the fourth quarter quarter Belman connected with sophomore wide receiver Dominick Ela and freshman tight end Chris French.  Belman managed to only turn the ball over twice on interceptions by Mountie defenders Dallas Deville and Ima Polamalu.

This was only the first game of the season and  it’s a long trail to the playoffs Belman said, “We are going to move on with this, it’s over with, we got the W… starting Monday we are going to put the next game plan in and go to work.”

Mountie standouts include quarterback Rocky Moore who threw two touchdowns, one to wide receiver Romell Smothers for 7-yards in the second quarter and another in the third quarter for 96 yards to sophomore wide receiver Kaelin Clay with a total of 220 yards (18-30). Kaelin Clay returned a punt for a 75-yard touchdown in the first quarter, punted by Guacho Brad Ritchie.

The Gauchos are now 1-0 overall on the season after this non-conference game with the Mounties now 1-0.

Saddleback Gauchos next game is a non-conference matchup against Canyons, home at Saddleback, Sept. 14, 2013, 6 p.m.

Wide receiver RJ Dedrick catches the football thrown by quarterback Tim Belman for one of his two touchdowns. (Adam Kolvites)

Middleton intercepts this one in the air again during the fourth quarter, returned 48-yards. (Adam Kolvites)

R.J. Kelly receives a pass for a touchdown from Belman. (Adam Kolvites)

Defensive back Michael Arkfeld lays down a big hit on a Mountie receiver to break up the pass. (Adam Kolvites)

Head Coach McElroy breaking down the victory. (Adam Kolvites)

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