Rancho Santiago Gets Second Chance, Beats El Camino

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Donnie Bladow caught a two-yard touchdown pass as time expired to give Rancho Santiago a 37-36 victory over El Camino in a Mission Conference football game Saturday at Santa Ana Stadium.

The game appeared to end a play earlier when Gabe Garcia's fourth-down pass was incomplete. But El Camino was called for a facemask penalty in the end zone, giving the Dons another chance with four seconds left.

Rancho Santiago needed to launch a winning drive because it let a 31-13 lead slip away.

El Camino rallied for 23 consecutive points and took the lead, 36-31, when quarterback Steve Sarkisian completed a 14-yard scoring pass to Robert Jenkins with 5 minutes 28 seconds left.

Dons quarterback Garcia and running back Ernest Wilson collided on an exchange and El Camino's Marc Afoa recovered at the Rancho Santiago 18 to set up the drive.

Rancho Santiago's winning drive started at the Dons' 20. The 80-yard drive took 16 plays.

Bladow rushed for 27 yards in five carries on the winning drive and had a career-high 161 yards rushing.

Wilson carried three times for 24 yards on the final drive and had 143 yards in the game. Rancho Santiago rushed for 337 yards.

Rancho Santiago (1-0-1) took advantage of four first-half turnovers to build a 24-7 lead at the break.

But Bladow fumbled at his own 14 on the first series of the second half to set up an El Camino touchdown.

But the Dons opened the lead to 31-13 when Wilson went 56 yards around right end midway in the third quarter.

But El Camino, which rallied to beat Orange Coast, 28-24, in the final minutes a week ago, didn't quit.

The Warriors started the comeback with Joe Furlow's 29-yard field goal with about four minutes left in the third quarter.

Sarkisian scored on a five-yard scramble to cut the lead to 31-22 with 13:08 to play. Six minutes later, Leandrew Childs scored on a reverse from seven yards and El Camino (1-2) cut the gap to 31-29 with 6:24 to play.

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