October 6. The Saddleback Gauchos football team loses to Ventura 21-14. They have lost three weeks in a row, and are 1-4 on the season. The team is held to 219 total offensive yards.
Since then, the Gauchos have not lost a game, and are now tied for first place in the SCFA Southern Conference with the Santa Ana Dons and the Fullerton Hornets. Quarterback Tim Belman threw for over 400 yards for the third time this season, as he led the Gauchos (5-4, 4-1) in their 66-42 victory over the Grossmont Griffins.
Belman completed 35 of 50 pass attempts for 475 yards in the winning effort, falling just three yards short of the school record for most passing yards in a single game, set by Ben Gomez in a 48-14 victory over the Victor Valley Rams last season. Having already set school records in the first game of the season, Belman tied another school record on Saturday, passing for six touchdowns. This tied the school record set by Brian Shrock in 2008. Belman’s third game of over 400 yards passing further solidifies himself in school history, as he is the only Gaucho to ever throw for 400 or more yards in a game more than once.
Belman was not the only Gaucho setting records on Saturday, as wide receiver Eric Lauderdale put on a show for Saddleback Stadium. Lauderdale caught 10 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns, including a long, 58 yard touchdown with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Lauderdale’s fourth quarter touchdown put him in Gauchos record books, as he became the eleventh player in school history to catch three touchdowns in a single game. The last Gaucho to do so was wide receiver Julian Williams in 2010 against the Palomar Comets. 218 yards receiving in a game ranks as one of the highest totals in school history, as Lauderdale finished 14 yards shy of the school record set in 1988, when wide receiver Scott Miller finished with 232 yards against the Orange Coast Pirates.
With their season on the line, the Gauchos will face off against the Golden West Rustlers (3-6, 1-4) on Saturday in their final game of the regular season. This game will be crucial for the Gauchos, as a loss to the Rustlers would eliminate them from the playoffs. However, with a win over the Rustlers, and a win by the Fullerton Hornets over the Santa Ana Dons, the Gauchos will clinch the SCFA National Southern Division title. The Gauchos have seen much success over the years against Golden West, as Saddleback has an all-time record of 18-2-1 against Golden West. The last time the two teams faced off was in 2009, when Saddleback pulled out a 33-23 victory over the Rustlers.