There were more giveaways on Golden West College’s football field than at the swap meet on campus Saturday.
Seven turnovers are how many the Rustlers and Chaffey College combined to commit in the first half. The hosts made the most of the mistakes.
All of Golden West’s 20 points in the first half came off turnovers, while the Panthers failed to score off turnovers, or anything else.
Despite three turnovers in the first half, the Rustlers recovered and went on to win 27-6 in a nonconference game.
The defense came through for Golden West (2-1) in the first two quarters, as cornerback Marquel Johnson picked off two passes and safety John Ejizu had one, while defensive lineman David Siliuta recovered a fumble. The Rustlers jumped to a 20-0 lead, and they were on their way to bouncing back from last week’s 20-14 loss at Riverside City College.
Joe Pyle, in his second start since taking over as quarterback, looked a lot more comfortable. With the Rustlers losing their starter in Beau Kalbacher (arm) and backup in John Buksa (shoulder) in the season opener on Sept. 2, they had to turn to Pyle.
The freshman completed 27 of 37 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. Xavier Smith, who finished with 10 catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns, was his top target.
The game began with a couple turnovers, and they came in a 13-second span.
After Golden West running back Amata Tavai fumbled the ball inside the opponent’s 40-yard line, Chaffey gave the ball right back. Johnson intercepted Jordan Velarde’s pass near midfield, and he almost returned it back for a touchdown. The Panthers brought Johnson down two yards shy of the end zone.
Golden West scored three plays later. Pyle threw a two-yard touchdown to Smith. Almost five minutes into the game, the Rustlers took the lead.
No one seemed to want to score again.
Golden West receiver Ben Ratzlaff fumbled the ball near Chaffey’s 10-yard line, then it was punter Ruben Contreras mishandling the snap for the Panthers and he tried to run with the ball, only to go down behind the line of scrimmage.
Right after Chaffey turned the ball over on downs on its 14, the Rustlers turned it over on downs as well. The Panthers stuffed Tavai’s fourth-and-two run for a one-yard loss, and they took over on their eight.
The turnovers continued in the second quarter.
After Pyle threw his first incompletion, he completed his first seven passes, each to a different target, linebacker Marchel Hill picked off Pyle’s tipped pass. Chaffey started inside its 30-yard line, and then it lost the ball. Velarde struggled with the snap, fumbling it, and Siliuta picked up the ball and returned it 10 yards, setting up the Rustlers in the red zone.
Golden West took advantage, getting some points. Saul Rodriguez made a 32-yard field goal.
Chaffey wasn’t done throwing the ball to Golden West.
Johnson intercepted his second pass, outjumping receiver Malik Sheppard for the ball near Chaffey’s sideline. The Rustlers capitalized, as Pyle hooked up with Smith on a second touchdown pass, this one for 26 yards. Golden West went ahead 17-0.
With less than five minutes left in the first half, it was Ejizu’s turn to intercept Velarde. The turnover led to another successful field goal by Rodriguez. He converted a 42-yarder, giving Golden West a 20-0 lead a second before the first half expired.
Chaffey (1-2) only had 72 yards on offense in the first half. By halftime, the game appeared as over as the swap meet closing down in the parking lot.