MISSION VIEJO, Calif. – A battle of two top-5 teams lived up to the hype but No. 5 El Camino College came up short in a 48-45 defeat against No. 2 Saddleback Saturday night at The Snake Pit.
The game featured 93 combined points and 1,003 combined total yards as neither team led by more than seven points at any point in the contest. The teams combined for 76 points by halftime but things slowed down in the second half as the defenses showed up and allowed just 17 combined points.
Quarterback Cole Klayman had another outstanding outing for the Warriors (3-1) as he went 18-for-23 for 360 yards and four touchdowns. Damien Bernard had three receptions which all went for touchdowns. He finished with 153 receiving yards on a night the Warriors threw for 379 yards.
Defensively, Mike Mason posted a season high with 11 tackles (four solo) on the night while James Randolph and Quinn Perry each added 10 tackles. The Warriors defense also recorded two more interceptions, marking the fourth straight game the team has tallied multiple interceptions. The Warriors also recorded six sacks on the night for 41 yards lost, led by Luis Aguiar's three sacks.
For the Gauchos (4-0), quarterback Cam Humphrey finished with 430 passing yards and five touchdowns while wide receiver Clinton Allen had 12 catches for 178 yards and three scores.
The teams went back-and-forth in the first half as the Gauchos struck first on a nine-play, 68-yard touchdown drive on their first possession of the game, but ECC would answer with a 69-yard touchdown reception from Robinson to tie things up at 7-7.
The teams traded touchdowns until the Warriors took their first lead of the game on a one-yard touchdown run from Okalani Taufahema-Langi to cap off a nine-play, 36-yard scoring drive to give ECC a 28-21 advantage.
The Gauchos took a 41-35 lead into the locker room at halftime but the Warriors regained the lead on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Klayman to Clark 4:45 into the second half. It would be the only points recorded in the third quarter after the teams combined for 76 in the first half.
In the fourth, the Warriors got to the Saddleback 1-yard line but could not break through and settled for a field goal from Kevin Boermeester to expand the lead to 45-41.
It proved costly as the Gauchos put together an eight-play, 55-yard touchdown drive capped off by an 11-yard TD run from Connor McBride with 1:29 left in the game to give the Gauchos the lead.
The Warriors had one last chance to tie or take the lead, getting the ball at the 25 after a touchback. The Warriors got a first down but then three straight incomplete passes gave ECC a 4th-and-10 at their own 45-yard line. Klayman dropped back to pass but was sacked to end the Warriors possession and give the ball back to Saddleback.
The Gauchos ran down the clock and secured the victory.
The Warriors suffered their first loss of the season and will stay on the road next week as they head to Bakersfield on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.