Western converted three Rancho Alamitos fumbles into second-half touchdowns and defeated the visiting Vaqueros, 35-18, in a nonleague game Friday night.
With the Pioneers behind, 12-7, following two Matt Huizar touchdowns, Dawayne Alexander recovered a fumbled snap with eight minutes 51 seconds left in the third quarter. Thirteen plays later, Jason Baughman hit Jeff LaMendola with a five-yard touchdown pass. Baughman and Will Ruffin combined for a two-point conversion to give Western (2-1) a 15-12 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Ivan Ramirez recovered the fumbled kickoff return, giving the Pioneers the ball on the Rancho Alamitos 25. Trevell Jackson scored from the five with 41 seconds left in the quarter, increasing the lead to 22-12.
LaMendola's second catch, an 18-yard touchdown toss from Baughman, increased the Western lead to 29-12 early in the final quarter.
Dave Mancha's fumble recovery on the Vaqueros' 40-yard line set up the final Western touchdown as Ruffin scored from the one with 5:13 left in the game.
Rancho Alamitos (1-2) had two long touchdown runs to highlight its attack. Huizar scored on a fourth-and-one situation from 51 yards out with 1:45 left in the first half, giving the Vaqueros their only lead. Quarterback George Gonzalez broke through with a 63-yard run for the final Rancho Alamitos score with 2:56 left in the game.
Western featured a balanced attack with Jackson (109 yards) and Jamiah Willamson (93) each carrying the ball 19 times. Baughman hit nine of 14 passes for 136 yards, connecting with five different receivers.
Gonzales accounted for 106 yards and Huizar had 64 for the Vaqueros.