Both teams entered 5-0 in conference play, with Mt. SAC holding a perfect 9-0 record and Riverside, led by former Mt. SAC Offensive Coordinator Tom Craft, entering at 8-1 and having handed the Mounties their last regular-season defeat in September 2011.
But Mt. San Antonio (10-0, 6-0) dominated this showdown from start to finish, scoring on its first drive of the night and never allowing Riverside (8-2, 5-1) near the Mt. SAC end zone. And the 25-point margin could have been much wider, as Mt. SAC missed three field goals and three extra points, and had one touchdown called back for a penalty on a return of a recovered fumble.
Nick Montana had a superb game, leading the Mounties to a touchdown on the initial drive of the game and finishing with a statistical line of 25 completions from 31 attempts for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. And more importantly, he neither threw an interception nor lost a fumble.
The defense did the rest, sacking Riverside quarterback Zach Adkins six times and holding the Tigers to 195 yards of offense for the game. The closest the Tigers came to scoring was early in the second quarter when Tyler Rausa attempted a 52-yard field goal; the kick was long enough but just wide to the left. Riverside had reached the Mt. SAC 26 on that drive before Adkins fumbled the snap on the next play for an 8-yard loss, making the field goal try on 4th down a long one.
Mt. SAC took The Opening kickoff and drove down the field in 12 plays, with Montana completing 6 of 7 passes on the drive and throwing a 13-yard scoring pass to Dewayne Gatti with 8:46 left in the quarter. Neither team scored after that until Montana threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Kaelin Clay to cap an 8-play drive with 5:49 left in the first half, and Mt. SAC led, 13-0 at halftime.
Montana pushed the lead to three touchdowns on a spectacular individual play in the third quarter when he slipped out of a potential sack and found Gatti all alone downfield, at least 20 yards behind the nearest defender. Gatti caught the ball around the Riverside 30 and scored easily for a 63-yard scoring play that made it 19-0 just 4:48 into the second half.
Mt. SAC added one more score when Dennis Rufus intercepted an Adkins pass and returned it 53 yard for a touchdown with 1:20 left in the game. That was nearly Mt. SAC's second defensive touchdown of the game as Geoffrey Vaughns recovered a fumble and appeared to return it for a score in the third quarter only for a penalty on the return inside the Tiger 10 yard-line to wipe away the score.
Gatti finished with 4 catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and he was just one of nine receivers to catch at least one pass from Montana. Dontae Ingraham led all receivers with 8 catches, good for 68 yards. Jamal Overton rushed for 54 yards on 15 carries to lead all rushers. And the defensive line, led by Tutulupeatau Mataele, Peter Nonu, Joita Te'l and Pingi Moli, dominated the game on the defensive side of the ball for the Mounties.
Adkins finished 15 of 30 passing for 124 yards for the Tigers, was under constant pressure, and was sacked six times. He also rushed 18 times for minus-one yards overall, though that total rises to 12 carries for 27 yards if sacks are subtracted out. E.J. Schexnayder carries 8 times for 19 yards and caught 5 passes for 27 yards. One of the few standouts for Riverside was linebacker Ofa Fifita, who registered three sacks for the Tigers.
The win gives Mt. San Antonio the #1 seed in the Southern California playoffs, and since the Southern California team will host the state championship game it means the Mounties will finish their schedule on their home field. Riverside falls to 8-2 and will now compete in a bowl game, having missed out on the last playoff berth.
Mt. San Antonio Mounties 25, Riverside Tigers 0
Saturday, November 10, 2012 - 6 pm - Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Walnut
National Division - Central Conference
M - Gatti 13 yd pass from Montana (Hageman kick) 8:46 (7-0)
M - Clay 17 yd pass from Montana (kick blocked) 5:49 (13-0)
M - Gatti 63 yd pass from Montana (run failed) 10:12 (19-0)
M - Rufus 53 yd interception return (kick failed - holder dropped snap) 1:20 (25-0)
First Downs: Mt. San Antonio 21 (6 rush, 13 pass, 2 penalty), Riverside 15 (6 rush, 6 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 37-70, Riverside 34-71
Passing Yds: Mt. San Antonio 319, Riverside 124
Comp-Att-Int: Mt. San Antonio 25-31-0, Riverside 15-30-1
Return Yds: Mt. San Antonio 111, Riverside 116
Sacks-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 6-28, Riverside 5-31
Fumbles-Lost: Mt. San Antonio 1-0, Riverside 5-1
Penalties-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 12-111, Riverside 7-60
Time of Possession: Mt. San Antonio 33:12, Riverside 26:48
Rushing: M 20-Overton 15-54, 29-Yarbrough 5-22, 30-Gatewood 4-14, 41-Scanlan 3-3, 15-Blood 2-0, 11-Montana 8-(-23); R 27-Austin 6-28, 31-Dozier 2-31, 8-Schexnayder 8-19, 3-Adkins 18-(-1)
Passing: M 11-Montana 25-31-0-319, 3 TDs; R 3-Adkins 15-30-1-124
Receiving: M 1-Ingraham 8-68, 18-Gatti 4-102, 4-Clay 4-51, 10-Tillman 3-43, 82-Taylor 2-11, 12-Cochran 1-36, 41-Scanlan 1-8, 83-Carden 1-3, 29-Yarbrough 1-(-3); R 8-Schexnayder 5-27, 10-Torrance 3-31, 18-Thompson 2-34, 7-Brown 1-13, 6-Simpson 1-10, 2-Olajide 1-6, 85-Tabron 1-6, 27-Austin 1-(-3)
Sacks: M 96-Mataele 2-8, 97-Moli 1-11, 2-Vaughns 1-7, 90-Nonu 1-1, 99-Te'l 1-1; R 32-Fifita 3-19, 59-Fanene 1-7, 91-Tuaau 1-5
Interceptions-Ret Yds: M 22-Rufus 1-53; R none
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: M 2-Vaughns 1-37; R none
Punters: M 61-Cejudo 4-42.5 avg; R 19-Guzman 8-34.6 avg
Kick Returns: M 4-Clay 1-21; R 17-Biggers 2-54, 31-Dozier 2-53
Punt Returns: M none; R 17-Biggers 2-9
Missed FG: M 62-Hageman 38 yds (wide left), 44 yds (wide left); 61-Cejudo 42 yds (wide left); R 80-Rausa 52 yds (wide left)
Notes: Showdown!Both teams entered 5-0 in conference. Mt. SAC entered 9-0 overall, ranked #1 in South and #5 in the nation; Riverside entered 8-1, #3 in South and #6 in the nation. But Mt. SAC scored on its first drive, and Riverside never got beyond the Mt. SAC 26. Vaughns returned the fumble into the end zone but a penalty negated the touchdown.