HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA – The Golden West College Rustlers (3-5, 1-2) came up short in their home finale against the No. 19 Saddleback College Gauchos (5-3, 3-0) on Saturday, 54-38.
The Rustler offense bounced back from a disappointing performance last week, finishing with 473 yards of total offense against the Gauchos. However, Saddleback broke for multiple big plays in the passing game, posting 516 total yards with 417 yards coming through the air.
The Gauchos struck first on the game's third play from scrimmage, as Robbie Patterson found Austin Derrico deep down the sideline for a 63-yard touchdown strike. The Rustlers, who started their opening drive inside their own five-yard-line, answered with a big play of their own. Beau Kalbacher hooked up with Ben Ratzlaff on a deep slant over the middle. Ratzlaff shed a few tackles and took it 91 yards for the touchdown.
Both teams again traded touchdown drives, as the Rustlers held a 14-13 lead late in the first quarter. Saddleback would regain the lead with a 27-yard field goal from the leg of Matthew Freem, before stealing all momentum with a pick-six thrown by Kalbacher to end the quarter.
Trailing 23-14 midway through the second quarter, Kalbacher would find Shasi Penn for a 17-yard touchdown to get the Rustlers right back in it. Patterson answered with his third touchdown pass of the half, and second of the game to Derrico from 20 yards out to regain control before halftime.
Freem added another field goal from 38 yards out on the Gauchos first drive of the second half, giving Saddleback a 33-21 lead. Kalbacher answered, leading a 10-play 65-yard drive, capped off by a touchdown pass to David Atencio. The Rustlers defense came up big on the following drive, as Patterson put the ball on the ground at Saddlebacks 10-yard line that was recovered by the Rustler defense. It was a tremendous opportunity for Golden West to take the lead, but Saddleback's defense held strong, holding them to a Jose Arredondo field goal.
It was all Saddleback following the red-zone stop, as the Gauchos added points on each of their following three drives to blow the game open in the fourth quarter. The Rustlers were able to add a late touchdown, but it wouldn't be enough as Saddleback went on to win 54-38.
Kalbacher ended the day completing 30 of his 44 pass attempts, for a total of 361 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Ratzlaff led the wideouts with a game-high 7 catches for 172 yards and a touchdown, while Atencio hauled in 2 touchdowns on the day.
Golden West football will close out the regular season with back-to-back road games. The Rustlers will travel to take on Southwestern under the lights at 6:00 pm on Saturday, November 3, followed by a 1:00 pm game against Grossmont College on Saturday, November 10.
(Wes McCurtis, Statistician | firstname.lastname@example.org)