Just when it appeared Golden West College would accomplish the improbable--rally from a 9-0 deficit with the less than four minutes remaining--the meaty hands of Rod Corn swatted down the Rustlers’ hopes.
The play also preserved Rancho Santiago’s 9-7 nonconference victory over Golden West on Saturday night in front of 1,500 fans in LeBard Stadium.
Trailing, 9-7, with 1:27 remaining in the game, the Rustlers had a fourth-and-10 situation at the Don 40. Rustler quarterback Tim Hanson tried to throw to running back Todd Parker over the middle. The two had connected for an eight-yard gain on the previous play, and it appeared Parker was open again, just beyond the first-down marker.
Enter Corn, a freshman defensive back from El Modena High School.
He dove, his left arm extended fully, as the pass was nearing Parker’s eager hands. But the pass never got there, as Corn knocked it to the turf.
“I knew he (Parker) was coming up the middle,” Corn said. “That was the only play they had run out of that formation. I looked at the quarterback’s eyes and he was telegraphing where he was going to throw.”
The Rustlers had scored two minutes earlier on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hanson to running back Dave Swigart.
Last week, Rancho Santiago beat Fullerton, 27-24, for its first win over the Hornets since 1980.
For much of the first half Saturday night, the Dons looked as if they were content to rest on last week’s laurels. Much of the first half was nothing but a punting exhibition between the Dons’ Rich Pedersen and the Rustlers’ Rich Mendoza. Both got off booming punts.
Don quarterback Silvio Delligatta’s first pass was intercepted by Roger Church at the Golden West 46, setting the tone for both offenses.
Rancho Santiago overcame its sluggish play and drove 66 yards in 11 plays for the first score with 3:27 left in the half.
Delligatta, who completed only 5 of 15 passes for 66 yards, was at his best during the drive, completing a 42-yard pass to K.B. Nelson at the Rustlers’ 16-yard line.
Finally, on a third-and-goal at the six Delligatta rolled to his left and threw to a wide-open Ed Nasser for the touchdown.
After Daryl Willis’ kickoff pinned the Rustlers at their 3, defensive lineman Ron Bauer broke through and sacked Hanson for a safety, to push the lead to 9-0 at halftime.