Gauchos cruise past Grossmont to keep playoff hopes alive

Gauchos cruise past Grossmont to keep playoff hopes alive

The Saddleback football team won its fourth straight game on Saturday night, defeating Grossmont College, 68-42, at the Snakepit in Mission Viejo.  The Gauchos are in a three-way tie for first place, with one game remaining on the regular season schedule.

Saddleback's offense was nearly unstoppable on Saturday, rolling up 608 yards of offense and scoring at will.  The Gauchos had 374 yards in the first half, and never had one scoring drive that lasted more than 3:17 the entire night. 

Freshman wide receiver Eric Lauderdale was a dominating force on the outside, catching 10 balls for 218 yards and three scores.  Lauderdale repeatedly beat the Grossmont defenders to the open spot, allowing quarterback Tim Belman to throw for 475 yards and six touchdowns.  When Saddleback wasn't torching the Grossmont secondary, running back James Marshall was pounding them on the ground, finishing with 104 yards rushing and two scores of his own. 

The Saddleback defense surrendered some big plays, but also made some big plays as they forced Grossmont into four turnovers and recorded a safety.  More then anything, the Gauchos were victimized by 18 penalties, seven on which resulted in Grossmont first downs. 

Saddleback improved to 5-4 overall and 4-1 in National Division Southern Conference play with the win.  The Gauchos are now tied with Santa Ana and Fullerton at the top of the standings with one week left in conference play.  A win by Saddleback next week combined with a Fullerton win over Santa Ana would give the Gauchos the conference title and a spot in the Southern California playoffs, starting on November 17.  A loss would eliminate Saddleback from the playoff picture.