The Gauchos lived up to the hype of being ranked No. 10 in the nation after defeating Orange Coast College 44-20 on Saturday, Sept. 3. It was their fifth straight win over the Pirates.
Saddleback College’s offense got off to a great start in the first half. Gaucho’s quarterback Ben Gomez, threw a pass that resulted in a 60-yard touchdown to James Poole.
The Gaucho’s Head Coach, Mark McElroy, believes that the offense started off strong right out of the gate because of the hard work the team has put into each practice.
“We have been practicing very hard, and we play a very fast tempo style offense,” McElroy said.
Saddleback’s defense did a great job shutting down the passing game, but had a difficult time stopping the running game. OCC’s quarterback completed only 11 of 30 attempts, a 37% completion rating. OCC rushed the ball 62 times and piled up 375 yards, but Saddleback’s defense still managed to cause four fumbles, three of which were recovered by the Gauchos.
“Our defense is scary,” Gomez said. “I don’t like going up against our own defense, because they are pretty nasty.”
Gomez completed 19 of 34 passing attempts for 303 yards. Gomez said, “I felt in my mind that I played okay in the first game but there is a lot of room to improve.” He also threw four touchdown passes and zero interceptions and earned a 169.56 quarterback rating.
Poole finished the game with 98 yards, 60 from his one touchdown reception, and 38 off of eight rushing carries.
“James is a hard working young man that’s very focused,” McElroy said. “He had a great performance that was based on his great work ethic.”
Rodney Woodland finished with six catches for 58 yards, and Kasey Closs, finishing with 96 yards and a touchdown off of five receptions. Jake Johnston would lead the defense with 11 tackles, and Trumaine Smith finished with eight tackles and a blocked field goal.
Darnell Morris added nine tackles. Junior Alvarado had a 16-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and Kyle Larimer had a blocked punt.
Now that the first game is in the books, two top-20 ranked teams in Saddleback and Bakersfield are ready for a highly anticipated and important game. The game was originally scheduled on Saturday, Sept. 10, but was rescheduled to Monday, Sept. 12, due to a rain delay.
“We are going into the game realizing it is a very important game for us,” McElroy said. “We’re geared up, we’re healthy, and we’re ready to go.”