With each quarterback - Belman and Ventura's Brad Odeman - averaging well over 300 yards passing per game entering the night, it figured to be an old-fashioned (AFL-style) shootout. And despite both teams committing heavily to the passing game - Ventura only ran one true running play the entire first half - Saddleback thrived as Belman passed for 255 yards in the first quarter alone en route to a career-high total and the second-highest single-game total in Gaucho school history.
For most of the first quarter, the teams traded scores, with each team relying on an excellent passing attack to score quickly. Saddleback (3-2) took the opening kickoff and drove 81 yards in 9 plays - 8 of which were passes - to take a 7-0 lead 3:12 into the game. Ventura (4-2) tied the game when Odeman threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Riley Smith midway through the quarter. Saddleback went back on top when Jerry Stone - who scored the Gauchos' first touchdown on the lone running play on the first drive - caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Belman. Then Ventura's Aaron Stanton returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a score to make it 14-14 less than 11 minutes into what was shaping up as a high-scoring shootout.
But after that, Saddleback kept scoring, and Ventura wouldn't score again until the outcome of the game was basically decided. This 31-0 run started quickly when Belman connected with R.J. Dedrick for a 73-yard touchdown pass after Ventura's David Emanuel gambled for the interception and narrowly missed what might have been a pick-six. Instead, Dedrick sped down the field, gaining about 60 yards after the catch, to give Saddleback a lead it would hold the rest of the game.
The trouble for Ventura really began on its next possession, which was a 3-and-out that took just 33 seconds. Saddleback pushed its lead to 24-14 on a 35-yard field goal by Matthew Boermeester. Ventura tried to answer with a field goal by Kevin Kircher, but his 33-yard try went wide left. But it seemed that the Pirates were maintaining contact when Saddleback faced a 4th and 18 and lined up to punt. However, a roughing the punter penalty kept the Gaucho drive alive.
And Saddleback took advantage of that opportunity, stretching the lead to 31-14 on a 1-yard run by back-up/running quarterback Matt Morin with 8:27 left in the quarter. Then Saddleback linebacker Rex Wasserbach got the ball back for the Gaucho offense, intercepting Odeman and returning the ball to the 50. Four plays later, Belman threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Eric Lauderdale to make it 38-14, which is where things stood at the half.
Ventura got the ball to start the second half, and managed to get across midfield, but then Odeman was intercepted by Doug Ruggles, who returned the ball all the way to the Ventura 10 yard-line. That led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Lee Griggs, which pushed Saddleback's lead to an overwhelming 45-14 margin.
Ventura, finally turning to the running game, got a pair of touchdowns from Stanton later in the third quarter. And the Pirates might have cut the deficit to 16 points (and two scoring plays) by going for a 2-point conversion after Stanton's second score. But Ventura had Kircher kick the extra point to make it 45-28. If there was any lingering doubt as to the game's outcome, it disappeared completely when Belman threw his fourth and final touchdown pass of the night, a 42-yarder to Dedrick, early in the fourth quarter to make it 52-28.
Belman finished 34 of 48 passing for the Gauchos for 465 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. Only the big Saddleback lead kept him from eclipsing the school record of 478 yards passing, set in 2011 by Ben Gomez against Victor Valley. Three Gaucho receivers had at least 100 yards receiving: Lauderdale had 9 catches for 110 yards and a score, Dominick Ela had 7 catches for 100 yards and Dedrick had 6 catches for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns. Stone carried the ball 14 times for 72 yards and a touchdown, and he also had a touchdown receiving. On defense, Ruggles had 2 of the Gauchos' 4 interceptions.
For Ventura, Odeman completed 25 of 44 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown, but also had 4 interceptions. Dylan McDaniel hauled in 7 passes for 119 yards, and Smith had 6 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Stanton had a spectacular night for the Pirates with 14 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown plus the 87-yard kickoff return for another touchdown.
With the win, Saddleback improves to 3-2 but will face the National Division's lone unbeatened team, Fullerton, next. Ventura falls to 4-2 and will host local rival College of the Canyons next Saturday in a key National Division North Conference showdown.
Saddleback Gauchos 52, Ventura Pirates 28
Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 6 pm - Saddleback College, Mission Viejo
S - Stone 4 yd run (Boermeester kick) 11:48 (7-0)
V - Riley Smith 17 yd pass from Odeman (Kircher kick) 7:01 (7-7)
S - Stone 13 yd pass from Belman (Boermeester kick) 4:17 (14-7)
V - Stanton 87 yd kickoff return (Kircher kick) 4:05 (14-14)
S - Dedrick 73 yd pass from Belman (Boermeester kick) 3:17 (21-14)
S - FG Boermeester 35 yds 14:45 (24-14)
S - M.Morin 1 yd run (Boermeester kick) 8:27 (31-14)
S - Lauderdale 8 yd pass from Belman (Boermeester kick) 1:25 (38-14)
S - Griggs 4 yd run (Boermeester kick) 11:00 (45-14)
V - Stanton 2 yd run (Kircher kick) 7:35 (45-21)
V - Stanton 26 yd run (Kircher kick) 1:31 (45-28)
S - Dedrick 42 yd pass from Belman (Boermeester kick) 9:44 (52-28)
First Downs: Saddleback 30 (8 rush, 18 pass, 4 penalty), Ventura 24 (4 rush, 17 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Saddleback 32-89, Ventura 21-79
Passing Yds: Saddleback 465, Ventura 345
Comp-Att-Int: Saddleback 34-50-0, Ventura 27-47-4
Return Yds: Saddleback 153, Ventura 241
Sacks-Yds: Saddleback 1-7, Ventura 2-22
Fumbles-Lost: Saddleback 3-0, Ventura 4-1
Penalties-Yds: Saddleback 10-91, Ventura 11-101
Time of Possession: Saddleback 34:30, Ventura 25:30
Rushing: S 21-Stone 14-72, 10-Griggs 7-34, 1-M.Morin 6-19, 15-Bautista 1-6, 35-Hartwell 2-2, 26-L.Merriweather 1-1, 36-Gasque 2-(-1), 4-Belman 1-(-9), 8-Dedrick 1-(-13), team 2-(-22);
V 3-Stanton 14-85, 21-Lesley 2-6, 5-Odeman 5-(-12)
Passing: S 4-Belman 34-48-0-465, 4 TDs; 1-M.Morin 0-1-0-0; 12-Berg 0-1-0-0; V 5-Odeman 25-44-4-330, 1 TD; 16-Duckworth 2-3-0-15
Receiving: S 2-Lauderdale 9-110, 7-Ela 7-100, 8-Dedrick 6-174, 10-Griggs 5-49, 21-Stone 4-16, 26-L.Merriweather 1-8, 35-Hartwell 1-8, 85-French 1-0; V 6-McDaniel 7-119, 4-Riley Smith 6-79, 3-Stanton 4-42, 15-Mitchell 4-40, 19-Estanol 3-34, 88-McCormack 1-19, 81-Adams 1-8, 45-Stedfelt 1-4
Interceptions-Ret Yds: S 9-Ruggles 2-58, 51-Wasserbach 1-16, 3-D.Merriweather 1-0; V none
Fumble Rec: S 48-Symonette 1-0; V none
Sacks-Yds: S 34-K.Morin 1-7; V 1-Hall 1-13, 56-Dixon 1-9
Punters: S 81-Dates 4-31.8 avg; V 17-Nelson 1-43
Kick Returns: S 18-Moss 4-70, 10-Griggs 1-9; V 8-Shands 3-66, 11-Mondy 2-38, 3-Stanton 1-87, 22-Wooding 1-29, 4-Riley Smith 1-16
Punt Returns: S none; V 10-Lee 1-5
Missed FG: S none; V 38-Kircher 33 yds (wide right)
Ejections: S 26-L.Merriweather, V 55-Haynes both 4:33 left in 4th quarter.
Notes: Saddleback entered 2-2, t-#9 in National Division, #17 in nation (JCFootball.com). Ventura entered 4-1, #4 in National, #21 in nation. Belman had 255 yds passing in the 1st quarter, and finished just 13 yards short of the Saddleback school record for the game. Ventura ran just one intended rushing play in the 1st half.