The Saddleback football team ran its winning streak to seven games on Saturday with a 39-36 win over Fullerton College in Yorba Linda. Myron Buchanan scored with 23 seconds remaining, giving the Gauchos a thrilling Halloween win to remain in first place.
Buchanan will forever be known as Boo-Cannon from this point forward after plowing in from one-yard out on fourth down and goal. He was met by a Fullerton linebacker at the goal line and imposed his will as the Saddleback sidelines watched and erupted.
Saddleback looked completely out of sorts in the opening minutes, falling behind 14-0 in the first three minutes of the game. The Gauchos eventually quieted the doubters in the second quarter when Johnny Stanton scored a one-yard touchdown with 8:35 remaining in the half, cutting the lead to 21-10.
Much like the previous week, the surge of momentum carried into the second half as Saddleback came out hot, scoring two touchdowns in 59 seconds. The Gauchos drove 48 yards in 11 plays on their second drive, capped off by a Buchanan two-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 21-18.
The defense then stepped up, forcing a Fullerton fumble deep in their own end on the second play from scrimmage and giving the Gauchos the ball at the eight yard line. Saddleback wasted no time as Stanton found Dominic Collins on an 8-yard score and the Gauchos had their first lead of the game at 25-21 with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
Following a Fullerton field goal, Saddleback was forced to punt on its next drive and pinned the Hornets deep at their own three-yard line with the game moving into the fourth quarter. After three unsuccessful plays, the Hornets punted and the Gauchos had great field position, taking over at the Fullerton 33-yard line. Three plays later, Stanton again found Collins on a 21-yard score, as Collins broke free from two Hornet defenders at the 10-yard line and raced into the end zone for a 32-24 lead.
Fullerton was not about to go down easy, driving down the field in the final 10 minutes in attempt to get back in the game. With the Hornets facing a fourth down and 10 at the Saddleback 29-yard line, Hornet quarterback Trey Tinsley found Jarell Moss in the back of the end zone for a touchdown with 4:06 remaining. The Hornets went for a two-point conversion to tie the game, but this time the ball glanced off Moss' hands, leaving Fullerton with a 32-30 deficit.
Saddleback had a chance to close out the game, but was unable to generate a first down, forcing the Gauchos to punt from their own 27-yard line. It went from bad to worse for the Gauchos as Moss returned the punt 73-yards to the Saddleback four-yard line with just 2:22 remaining, and the Hornets cashed in two plays later when Anthony Wood ran five yards to give Fullerton a 36-32 lead.
With two timeouts remaining, Saddleback took over at its 25-yard line with 1:40 remaining in the game. Stanton found Collins on the opening play and then Zach Davis on the third play as the Gauchos quickly approached their own 40-yard line with 1:20 on the clock. The play of the season then happened on second down and 10 from their own 39, when Stanton heaved one downfield to Collins, who made a circus catch at the Fullerton 20 with 1:11 remaining.
The Gauchos then tried two consecutive fade patterns in the end zone but were unsuccessful, making it third and 10 with just 57 seconds remaining. Stanton again found Collins on the sideline at the Fullerton nine-yard line for the first down, giving the Gauchos renewed life.
Following a Stanton pass to Nathan Rodgers at the two-yard line, Saddleback called a timeout with 35 seconds remaining in the game. The Gauchos again tried a fade pattern to D'Andre Washington, but again it was well defended to force a third-and-goal. Saddleback went back to Stanton, who called his own number and raced for the pylon in what looked like a sure touchdown as the play was developing. Fullerton again denied the Gauchos as Lukas McCarthy pushed Stanton out-of-bounds at the 1-yard line to force a fourth and goal. Saddleback then went back to power football, putting the ball into the hands of their reliable running back. Buchanan answered the bell, scoring the biggest touchdown of the season as the Fullerton fans saw their playoff hopes come to end with 23 seconds remaining on the clock.
Fullerton was left with two desperation plays, but a double-pass sealed the fate when Marcus Meredith stepped in front of a Asante Wilder pass in the closing seconds, putting a close to one of the wildest wins in recent Gaucho history.
Saddleback improved to 7-2 overall and 5-0 in Southern League play with one game remaining on the regular season schedule. The Gauchos now have a week off before facing Golden West College in a game that will decide the league championship.
The seven-game winning streak is the first since Saddleback opened the 2011 campaign with seven straight wins.