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Saddleback Overcomes Obstacles to Win

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saddleback overcame a bad coaching decision, a poor call by an official and a stubborn Mt. San Antonio team Saturday.

The Gauchos, ranked eighth in the nation, blew a 14-point, third-quarter lead but won, 28-23, in a Mission Conference football game at Mt. San Antonio.

Saddleback’s Mark Reynosa scored on a nine-yard run up the middle to give Saddleback a 28-21 lead with 12 minutes 59 seconds left.

Saddleback’s defense then stopped two Mt. San Antonio drives. The second stop came on downs at the Saddleback 30 with 59 seconds left.

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Saddleback ran the ball three times and had the ball at its 19 on fourth down with seven seconds left.

After a timeout, quarterback Justin Vedder took the snap and raced backward to his end zone in an effort to exhaust the remaining time.

But once he crossed the goal line, the referee incorrectly blew the play dead. The play shouldn’t have been over until Vedder was tackled or downed the ball.

After a long discussion, Saddleback kicked with three seconds left and made the tackle near midfield to end the game.

“We work on that play all the time,” Saddleback Coach Bill Cunerty said. “He shouldn’t have been down. I couldn’t believe it.”

Saddleback dominated the first half and led, 14-0, with only seconds left.

Saddleback (2-0) was at its 25, when the Gauchos went into punt formation with four seconds left instead of just taking the snap, then a knee, to run out the half.

After a poor snap, Mt. San Antonio’s Dickey Purcell was able to get a hand on Chris Culbertson’s punt causing it to deflect to the right. Issac Hatley of Mt. San Antonio caught the blocked punt at the Saddleback 15 and raced into the end zone for a touchdown with no time left.

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“I told our football team they had to overcome my mistakes today,” Cunerty said.

Saddleback started the second half with a nine-play scoring drive that covered 64 yards. The touchdown came when Vedder threw 25 yards to Joe Uribe, who was open in the middle of the field.

It was Vedder’s third touchdown pass of the game. He and wide receiver Gabe Payne combined on scoring passes of 48 and 56 yards in the first. The 56-yarder capped a 99-yard drive.

Reynosa had the key gain in the drive, going 15 yards up the middle on a third and eight from Saddleback’s three.

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Reynosa (13 carries, 79 yards) carried the ball five times on third down, getting the first down each time. He said he looks forward to carrying on third down, “because those are the tough yards.”

Mt. San Antonio rallied to tie it, 21-21, on two third-quarter touchdowns. The second was up when Vedder was intercepted at his 41 by Jerry Wolak, who returned the ball to the Saddleback 18. The touchdown came five plays later when quarterback Mike Maschetti ran in from the one with 3:29 left in the quarter.


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