This week the Gauchos welcomed the College of the Canyons (COC) Cougars to Mission Viejo. The game began with a brief feeling out process from both teams. On Saddleback’s second possession the offense began to click putting together a methodical drive marching 69 yards down field on 11 plays resulting in a Jojo Binda seven-yard touchdown run with 5.50 left in the first quarter, the score 6-0 Gauchos.
During the drive Saddleback sophomore starting quarterback Johnny Stanton was hit in the midsection on a 14-yard run and did not return. Stanton appears to have an apparent rib injury, the extent of his condition has not yet been measured.
“ Not sure yet,” said Head Coach Mark McElroy in reference to the extent of Stanton’s injury.
Freshman backup quarterback Jacob Gibson took the field early in the second quarter rushing for 25 yards on his first two drives before throwing a 52-yard strike to freshmen wide receiver Remy Wasserbach for a second Gaucho touchdown expanding the lead 13-0 with less than six minutes to go before halftime.
Saddleback had dominant first half defensive performance shocking the unbeaten COC Cougars offense which were unable to get any closer than 28 yards from the end zone.
“Our defense is just so dependable, so dependable,” said Gibson.
The third quarter began with the Saddleback defense holding COC on a fourth and two, resulting in a change of possession. The Gauchos responded with an impressive nine-play offensive drive converting two fourth downs along the way. Gibson ended the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Zach Davis with just over ten minutes remaining in the third quarter, building their lead to 19-0.
On the Cougars ensuing possession they were able to move the ball on a stout Saddleback defense just close enough to convert a 40-yard field goal attempt with eight minutes left in the third quarter , the score 19-3 Gauchos.
The rest of the third and much of the fourth quarter found both teams unable to build offensive momentum until 5:48 in the fourth quarter when a Saddleback punt left COC with possession at midfield. The offensive drive took the Cougars down to Gauchos five-yard line, however the Saddleback defense rose to occasion as they had all night stuffing COC forcing a turnover on downs.
The game ended with no additional scoring as Saddleback won their fourth game in a row 19-3. Much of the credit for the victory went to the defensive effort and play of backup quarterback Jacob Gibson.
The Saddleback defense held strong up front all game allowing COC only 40 net rushing yards, and a 40-yard field goal.
Gibson entered the game for an injured Stanton late in the first quarter and completed 55 percent of his passes for 106 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“I felt ready, Johnny’s a beast and he always does his thing but I got to be ready to come in there,” Gibson said.
“He came in and threw some very nice balls,” said McElroy. “The defense played really well, only giving up three is huge.”
The offense will look to keep improving this week as the defense hopes to ride their mounting momentum into Saddleback’s homecoming game against Grossmont this Saturday.