Gauchos pull out epic comeback

Quarterback Sebastian TruJillo pulls out a 35-yard touchdown run agains Pasadena.

Julian Williamson

After trailing 31-7 at halftime, Saddleback’s offense rallied for one of the biggest comeback victories in school history with a final score of 42-31 over Pasadena City College, Saturday at home.

The injury list for the Gauchos was extensive, including No. 1 Quarterback, Brian Shrock, who was out because of a shoulder injury, and No. 1 running back, Josh Ferrell, who is not returning to the field for the remainder of the season with an injury sustained in the fourth quarter of last week’s game. The Gaucho’s defense in the first half had a hard time slowing down the dominant passing attack by Lacers’ David Pittman, who went 31-57 for a school-record 377 yards, with two interceptions, and a touchdown in the contest.

Pittman also led Pasadena’s rushing attack with 82 yards on 11 attempts, with two touchdowns on the ground. On top of that, he was their punter for the game.

The Lancers’ passing game plan revolved around sophomore David Reed, who would finish the game with 13 receptions for 237 yards and the visitor’s only receiving touchdown.

The Gaucho offense put up just 133 total offensive yards in the first half of play, with 88 rushing and the other 45 passing. The other sideline, however, had racked up 283 first-half passing yards.

Saddleback tried to stick with last week’s game plan of screen passes and runs to the outside, but the Lancers had done their homework on the Gauchos’ tendencies and weren’t allowing much to get by.

The running game was Saddleback’s saving grace from the threat of going scoreless after trailing 24-0 in the second quarter.

It all started with a 35-yard touchdown run by Quarterback, Sebastian Trujillo, who was playing in place of injured Shrock. Trujillo finished the game 15-25 for 181 yards, three passing touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Halftime adjustments proved extremely valuable for the Gauchos when they finished the game on top on the scoreboard with 527 yards of total offense (362 yards rushing and 181 through the air).

The Gauchos opened up their running game further in the second half, with a majority of the yardage going to reserve Micah Abreu-Laybon, who was filling the void for injured Ferrell, on 10 rushes for 135 yards with a game-long 60-yard dash in the third quarter. He finished the night as the game’s leading rusher.

When asked about his big performance, the ever-humble, Abreu-Laybon said, “I’m just trying to fill in because of all the injures. I just want to thank the linemen and my other teammates for helping me have a big night.”

Trujillo ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns of his own, but the bulk of the carries went to Cheyne Verhagen on 15 attempts for 66 yards to his credit.

Wide receiver, Maurice Clark, had a big game Saturday, leading Saddleback with four receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown as well as a 48-yard run for another score on the night, helping his team overcome a huge halftime deficit. His outstanding downfield blocking was also a key factor in Saddleback being able to put up 274 second-half rushing yards against the No. 1-ranked Pasadena defense.

Saddleback’ s 35 unanswered second-half points left the Lancers only able to watch as their commanding lead slipped away in a proverbial cloud of dust.

Gauchos’ head coach, Mark McElroy was ecstatic after his team’s colossal comeback victory in the Mission Conference.

“This is the biggest victory I think I’ve ever been a part of,” McElroy said. “After nine years of [coaching] here, I don’t think I’ve seen ever seen anything like that. We’ve got kids with a lot of character and they made a lot of great plays.”

With the win, the Gauchos improve to 6-1 (2-0).

Saddleback plays Cerritos on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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