Riverside tight end Gus Penning avoids a tackle from a Saddleback defender in the Tigers’ 51-13 win on Saturday. (Michael Grennell)
Luck was not with the Saddleback football team Saturday, as the Gauchos (1-2) lost to the Riverside Tigers (2-1) in a 51-13 blowout.
The Gauchos got off to a rough start in the first quarter, falling behind 13-0 after two field goals and a 41 yard touchdown pass from Tigers freshman quarterback Tyler Shreve. With just over nine minutes remaining in the first half, the Gauchos scored their first points of the night on a 26 yard field goal from sophomore kicker Ryan Steska. Riverside responded with three touchdowns before halftime, including a blocked punt returned for a touchdown just before the end of the half.
Down 34-6 heading into the second half, the Gauchos were able to limit the Tigers to only 10 points in the third quarter. Saddleback’s offense was unable to respond though, as they were unable to score during the quarter. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter, with less than seven minutes remaining, that the Gauchos scored their first touchdown on a 16 yard pass from freshman quarterback Jake Geringer. It proved to be too little, too late, though, as the Gauchos were unable to score again, losing to the Tigers by a score of 13-51.
Penalties and mistakes cost Saddleback in the loss. The Gauchos were penalized eight times for a season high 95 yards against the Tigers. Saddleback also failed to convert on third downs, converting a season low six times in 22 chances. Gauchos head coach Mark McElroy said the main reason for the low conversion rate, was due to the team’s play during first downs.
“We were not performing well on first downs,” said McElroy. “We didn’t perform at the level we need to.”
Gauchos quarterbacks combined to complete 24 of 61 pass attempts for 217 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Sophomore quarterback Tim Belman completed only four passes out of 26 attempts, and threw both of the team’s interceptions.
After the game, McElroy said that part of Belman’s poor performance was due to Belman being injured in the team’s win against College of the Canyons. McElroy said that Belman had only been able to play in one practice during the week, and that Belman was still feeling the effects of his injury.
Walking off the field, freshman wide receiver Deveion Collins was disappointed with the loss, and said that the team didn’t do as well as they could have. “We made a lot of mistakes on offense, defense, and special teams,” said Collins. He continued on, saying that the team needed to make sure that they practiced hard in preparation for their upcoming game against Santa Ana College.
The Gauchos have a bye this week, as they look to prepare for their first conference game of the season against the Santa Ana Dons (2-1). This will mark the thirtieth matchup between the two teams, dating back to 1981. The last time they played was in 2005, when Saddleback beat Santa Ana 45-24.