VALENCIA – The Saugus football team drove 97 yards to score the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter against West Ranch at College of the Canyons on Friday night.
Quarterback Zack Gauthier threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jon Aguirre as Saugus rallied to beat West Ranch, 26-22.
The Saugus defense stopped West Ranch on a fourth-and-1 play from the 3-yard line in the fourth quarter. Saugus then proceeded to march down the field, chewing up nearly eight minutes and scored on a fourth-down play to take the lead.
Gauthier found receiver Manny Padron four times for 54 yards on the drive. Running back Chris Wolford, playing for injured Tyler Watt, gained 14 crucial yards on the ground to keep the drive going. Aguirre caught the touchdown pass with less than two minutes to play in the game giving West Ranch one last shot to win the game.
But Padron picked off West Ranch quarterback Connor Eichten on the ensuing drive and ended any hopes of a Wildcat comeback.
Both quarterbacks had exceptional games. Gauthier completed 19-of-28 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Eichten threw for 302 yards on 14-of-27 passing and two touchdowns. Both quarterbacks made big plays and clutch throws throughout the game.
Gauthier completed his first six passes including an 11-yard touchdown to Padron in the first quarter.
Eichten completed three bombs, including a 46-yard touchdown to Chris Kim just before the end of the first half.
Saugus (2-5, 1-1) jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first quarter. Padron scored the first touchdown and Watt added another touchdown on a 6-yard run with just under four minutes to play in the first quarter. Saugus tried 2-point conversions after both touchdowns and failed both times.
West Ranch (4-3, 1-1) scored two touchdowns and a field goal in the second quarter to take a 15-12 halftime lead. Eichten hit tight end James McGough with a 1-yard touchdown pass to cut Saugus’ lead in half, 12-6. Brady Stuart added a 28-yard field goal to cut the lead to 12-9 with 1:39 left in the second quarter.
With less than a minute to play in the first half, Eichten threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Kim to give West Ranch a three-point lead heading into halftime.
Saugus took back the lead in the third quarter on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Gauthier. But West Ranch came right back and scored a touchdown on a 2-yard plunge by fullback Trevin Manuel with 20 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Up 22-19, West Ranch drove down to the Saugus 3-yard line. Opting to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 3-yard line instead of kicking a field goal, West Ranch came up short and turned the ball over to Saugus on downs.
Saugus took over and drove the length of the field, chewing up most of the clock and scoring the winning touchdown on a fourth-and-8 play from the West Ranch 14-yard line.
Watt carried the ball 17 times for 67 yards and a touchdown for Saugus. Chris Weiner caught seven passes for 87 yards. Padron finished with seven catches for 72 yards and had an interception in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory.
Zak Snell rushed 20 times for 75 yards for West Ranch. Kim caught five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. McGough caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown.