How the West was won

Zach Cavanagh

The 2009 football season came full circle for David Ingram on Saturday night. The benched quarterback came in at the end of the first quarter and led the Saddleback College football team, ranked eighth in Southern California, in a 31-20 victory over College of the Canyons, ranked 12th in Southern California, in the CCCAA Western State Bowl at Saddleback College.

The Gauchos finished the season at 9-2 overall.

The sophomore Ingram began the year as the starter for Saddleback, but had been relegated to back-up behind freshman Brad Curtis for the final two games and the bowl. After three interceptions and an ankle tweak, Curtis was removed and Ingram put in. Ingram was named the Most Valuable Player of the Western State Bowl.

“If you would have told me at the beginning of the day that I would get the bowl MVP,” Ingram said, “I wouldn’t have believed you.”

With 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Saddleback defense stymied the Canyons offense with a fourth down stand at the Saddleback 24 yard line and handed the ball to Ingram and the offense.

“I went in,” Ingram said, “and I did what I do.”

Ingram marched Saddleback down the field with three long passes to T.J. Knowles of 17-yards, 14-yards, and 34-yards to the three yard line. Ingram put the ball in the end-zone with a three-yard touchdown run for the 24-20 lead with 6:31 remaining.

After a three-and-out and a punt, the Saddleback offense took the ball at its own 37-yard line with 4:49 to be played.

Ingram again orchestrated the drive with two passes over 10 yards, including a 13-yard pass to Aziz Spellman-Smith and an 18-yard pass to John Akiba. Jai Morris added an 11-yard run to set up Kory Johnson’s four-yard touchdown run with 49 seconds left to seal the game at 31-20.

“Unfortunately we didn’t make the playoffs,” Knowles said, “but it’s great to end the season on a high note.”

Knowles got the Gauchos on the board first with a 25-yard touchdown catch from Curtis at 12:22 of the first quarter.

Following Curtis’ first interception, Canyons quarterback Eric Brown connected with Mychal Rivera for a 20-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter.

After back-to-back Saddleback drives ended with interceptions from Curtis, Ingram came in with 10 seconds left in the quarter.

“It was unfortunate; the circumstances of why I came in,” Ingram said, “but my guys are great. We back each other up.”

After a 31-yard field goal by Canyons, Ingram led a 69-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a leaping 37-yard reception by Knowles and a 16-yard touchdown pass to Spellman-Smith, for a 14-10 Saddleback lead with 3:39 left in the half.

Canyons immediately responded with an 81-yard touchdown pass from Brown to D.J. Stephens on the first play of the next drive.

As time expired on the first half, the Saddleback secondary committed an obvious pass interference penalty by knocking down the Canyons receiver before the ball was within 10 yards of him. The penalty set up a 47-yard field goal by Canyons, which was made for 20-14 halftime lead.

Saddleback added a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter to set up the fourth quarter comeback win.

“It’s a great way to end the year with a bowl victory,” McElroy said. “This team was a bunch of ordinary young men who produced extraordinary results with heart and determination.”

Ingram led in the passing game completing 22-of-33 pass attempts with a touchdown and an interception.

Knowles made a bid at the MVP with 147 yards receiving and a touchdown on nine receptions.

Johnson led the Gauchos on the ground with 46 yards rushing and a touchdown on 11 carries. Johnson added eight tackles and a sack on defense.

Jason Young led the defense with 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and a fumble recovery. Devin Thurman added 11 tackles and a forced fumble.