After a penalty-plagued first half at College of the Canyons on Friday night, Saugus was able to pull away from Hart 13-7.
Several false starts, holding penalties and personal fouls frequently stopped the momentum for both teams, as the only score of the first half came on a 38-yard field goal by Saugus kicker Colton Dolder.
Saugus head coach Jason Bornn attributes the miscues to the excitement of playing the first league game and going against a revered program in Hart.
“It’s a big game, it’s the first league game and anytime you play a storied program like Hart there’s always going to be that factor,” Bornn said. “I credit that to nerves a little bit, but we settled down after that.”
The second half was a completely different story, as both offenses came out firing, with the Centurions scoring the first touchdown of the game on a 46-yard run by Julian Bornn after quarterback Cole Gallagher pitched him the ball on an option play.
On the ensuing drive by the Indians, two pass interference calls against Saugus gave Hart the opportunity to get down the field quickly and Hart made it 13-7 with a 7-yard touchdown from quarterback Zach Johnson to receiver Jacob Montes.
Hart coach Mike Herrington was pleased with the play from his quarterback, but was disappointed in his defense for not being able to get to the opposing quarterback Gallagher.
“I was impressed by the play of Zach Johnson. He made a bunch of plays,” Herrington said. “But we had the quarterback sacked a number of times and he escaped. It’s our poor tackling.”
Gallagher was able to escape several tackles that would have resulted in sacks and kept extending plays, much like he’s done all season.
“He’s just a riverboat gambler and trust me it ain’t something we coach,” Bornn said with a smile.
“Cole played amazing. I think this is the best I’ve seen him all year. He looks prime,” said Saugus safety and receiver Devin Thompson. “…He did a great job of getting out of the pocket, making plays with his feet and throwing down the field.”
Gallagher connected with Thompson on a big play to begin the second half, a 51-yard gain that set up Dolder’s second field goal of the game. Thompson also recorded an interception, picking off Johnson in the first half.
Dolder was 2-for-3 on the night on field goals, as his third attempt was blocked by Hart.
Aaron Rodriguez was called upon twice by Hart in the first half for field goals. His 37-yard attempt in the first quarter missed and his second attempt was blocked by Saugus and recovered by James Sumpter.
Overall it was the Centurions’ defense that came up huge, allowing the Indians to only score seven points, their fewest total of the season.
“We were able to stop the run game most of the time tonight,” said Saugus linebacker Myles Garrett. “I think we played pretty well tonight to hold them to seven points. That’s our goal.”
Saugus will play Golden Valley next week at College of the Canyons and Hart will face Valencia at Valencia High School.