Gauchos ‘steal’ win from Pirates, remain undefeated in conference

Sophomore wide receiver Zach Davis (No. 11, white) flys over multiple Orange Coast College defenders. Davis had two touchdown receptions in the game. (Cliff Robbins)

Sophomore wide receiver Zach Davis (No. 11, white) flys over multiple Orange Coast College defenders. Davis had two touchdown receptions in the game. (Cliff Robbins)

The Orange Coast College Pirates could not handle Saddleback College on Saturday, as they fell 35-22. The Gauchos football team started out slow, but a furious second half led them to their sixth consecutive victory.

“We are excited about the kind of passion that we played with today and the kind of perseverance we played with today,” Saddleback head coach Mark McElroy said.

The Gauchos scored first, getting a 17-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Johnny Stanton to sophomore wide receiver Dominik Collins. That was all Saddleback would muster on offense in the first half though, which included a missed field goal.

“Our team has played with a lot of heart all year and a lot of passion and the first half we just didn’t seem to have that going,” said McElroy. “It was just a matter of going back to what we know how to do.”

The Pirates would take advantage of the Gauchos offense’s mishaps by scoring two touchdowns, which put them up 15-8 at halftime. This was the first time Saddleback had been down at the half in a while.

When the Gauchos came out after halftime, they seemed like a different team.

“You should of seen us in the locker room at halftime,” said Stanton. “Anyone in the stadium could tell that when we came out for the second half, it was a completely different mindset.”

This was proved almost immediately by Saddleback scoring on their first drive of the second half. Stanton ran in an 8-yard touchdown, taking a couple of defenders with him, tying the score 15-15.

Then, on OCC’s next drive, sophomore defensive back Zackary Wade made the play of the game when he put a huge hit on Pirates quarterback Mason Dossey, causing him to fumble and give the Gauchos possession.

“I just wanted to come in there, bring good energy and make a play for my team you know and everybody rallied off of it,” said Wade.

Stanton, who would scored a 21-yard touchdown after the hit, believed it was a momentum-shifting play.

“This win wasn’t the defense’s best game, but that play right there was the changing point in the game,” said Stanton.

With almost all of the momentum seemingly against them, OCC still trudged down the field to score a touchdown on a running back pass trick play to cut Saddleback’s lead to 29-22.

The Gauchos would answer right back with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Stanton to sophomore wide receiver Zack Davis to male the score 35-22.

The Pirates would not answer this time and the Gauchos got the win, their sixth consecutive, to improve to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play.

“We had a vision going into this and it’s all coming together, so it feels really good, everybody coming together as brothers,” said Wade.

McElroy also shared his appreciation of the team after the game.

“I love this football team, this is a great group of kids, it really is,” said McElroy.

Saddleback will next suit up against Fullerton College in another road game. The contest will be played on Oct. 31 at Nathan Shapell Memorial Stadium in Yorba Linda at 12:30 p.m.