For the third time in as many weeks, the Saddleback College football team, ranked 19th in the nation, was faced with a halftime deficit. For only the second time, the Gauchos were able to overcome it.
Saddleback outscored Long Beach City College 28-3 in the second half en route to a 28-24 Southern Conference victory on Saturday (Oct. 17).
The win improved the Gauchos’ record to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in Southern Conference play.
The Gauchos return home next Saturday (Oct. 24) to take on rival Fullerton College, ranked 18th in the nation. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
The Vikings took control early as Genesis Fonoimoana intercepted Saddleback quarterback David Ingram and returned the ball 52 yards for the touchdown with 4:19 remaining in the first quarter.
Daveon Barner was the offensive catalyst for Long Beach scoring two touchdowns in the first half, a 14-yard run in the first quarter and a four-yard run in the second quarter. Barner finished with 126 yards rushing on 26 carries.
Following a missed field goal 3:43 into the third quarter, Jason Young forced and recovered a fumble at the Long Beach 30-yard line for Saddleback’s first big defensive play of the game.
On the ensuing possesion, Ingram sparked the offense with runs of 11 and three yards. After a Long Beach personal foul, Charles Neal had a four-yard run and a four-yard touchdown run for the Gauchos’ first score of the game. Long Beach led 21-7.
The Saddleback defense provided the offense with premium field position off of another turnover. Cameron Chadwick intercepted Viking quarterback Tyler Tuiasosopo at the Saddleback 49-yard line and returned the ball to the Long Beach 30-yard line with 7:29 remaining in the third quarter.
Ingram made sure to capitalize on the field position leading the Gauchos with a rush and a pass to the Long Beach 16-yard line. Dominique Vinson caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Ben Gomez to cut the Viking lead to seven points.
The pass was Gomez’s second pass attempt and second touchdown pass of the season.
Fonoimoana returned the ensuing kickoff to the 50-yard line. Long Beach made use of the short field and completed a 31-yard field goal with 3:42 left in the third quarter for the 24-14 lead.
Jai Morris brought the Gauchos within three points with a 91-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff. Long
Beach was forced to punt after a three-and-out on the following possession. Saddleback received the ball at its own 29-yard line with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Ingram completed a 14-yard pass to Vinson at the Saddleback 45-yard line. Craig Woods brought the Gauchos into Viking territory with runs of seven yards and five yards to end the third quarter.
After a loss of three yards, Ingram again completed a pass to Vinson for a gain of 31 yards and brought Saddleback to the five-yard line. Morris ran for three yards and Joshua Andrews ran for one yard on the next two plays.
Ingram finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run and put Saddleback ahead for the first time 28-24.
The rest of the fourth quarter was left to the Gaucho defense.
Saddleback held strong and intercepted Tuiasosopo three times. T.L. Edwards, Jordan Weingrad, and Jeremy Rodenburg had the interceptions to preserve the 28-24 victory.
Saddleback finished with 388 yards of offense and Long Beach finished with 322 yards of offense. The two teams combine for 710 total yards.
The Vikings were held back by a large amount of penalties. Long Beach was penalized 12 times for 113 yards. Saddleback had six penalties for 55 yards.
Ingram completed 15-of-25 pass attempts for 151 yards and three interceptions for the Gauchos. Tuiasosopo finished 18-of-36 for 214 yards and four interceptions for the Vikings.
Saddleback spread the wealth on the ground. Woods led the Gauchos with 72 yards on 11 carries. Ingram was not far behind with 66 yards on 15 carries. Charles finished with 37 yards on nine carries and Morris added 28 yards on 13 carries.
Barner’s 126 yards were the only positive rushing yards for Long Beach.
Vinson led the Gauchos in receiving with 71 yards on six receptions. T.J. Knowles was second with 41 yards on three receptions. Chris Williams was the Vikings’ leading receiver with 64 yards on six receptions.
Next Saturday’s match-up will be Saddleback’s 22nd consecutive regular-season meeting against the Fullerton Hornets. The teams have met each year since 1988. The first three meetings between the schools were post-season bowl games in 1982, 1984, and 1985. The series is tied 12-12 all-time.
Fullerton won last year’s match 24-21. The game was very similar to Saddleback’s victory over Long Beach. Saddleback led 21-3 in the first quarter, but the Hornets capitalized on four turnovers. Fullerton scored 21 straight points to topple the Gauchos.
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Saddleback Stadium.