By Matt Lechuga
For The Signal
Saugus leaned heavily on its defense and passing game to hold off an energetic Golden Valley squad 35-13 at College of the Canyons on Friday.
The Centurions (6-1, 2-0) forced three turnovers on the night, two fumbles and a pick-six, to sway the game in their favor. But it wasn’t until the second half that Saugus was able to pull away.
“Defensively we had to take advantage of some of the things that we weren’t doing in the first half,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “We’re a very opportunistic defense, that’s what we try to do. We try to create opportunities for us to score, not just relying on the offense, but making sure that we do our part on the defensive side of the ball so the offensive guys can have a little cushion to breathe with.”
The teams traded the lead throughout the first and second quarters, with each defense forcing a turnover that set up a scoring drive.
Golden Valley (1-6, 0-2) recovered a fumble at their own 34-yard line after Saugus quarterback Cole Gallagher was stripped on a sack. The Grizzlies worked down the field until penalties and negative plays forced them to kick a field goal, a 37-yarder by Carson Farber, to give them a 3-0 lead.
Four plays later Saugus grabbed the lead back on a 47-yard pass from Gallagher to sophomore receiver Julian Bornn, giving the Cents a 7-3 lead after the first quarter.
The Grizzlies leaned on Jonathan Kaelin on its next drive, going to him on five of their next nine plays. Kaelin capped the drive with a 7-yard rush over the left side, giving Golden Valley the lead back 10-7.
After going three and out on their next drive, Saugus’ defense got its first turnover when Carson Smith sacked Grizzlies quarterback Zack Chevalier and forced a fumble that the Cents recovered at their own 49.
Six plays later Gallagher hit Bornn for their second TD connection of the half, this time from 17-yards out, giving Saugus a 14-10 lead going into halftime. Gallagher finished the game with a season-high 297 yards passing and three touchdowns.
“Our receivers ran great routes, my O-line gave me all the time in the world, I studied hard, and when we do that we’re set.” said Gallagher. “Tonight, I think we settled down, got back to our roots and played well.”
Saugus pushed its lead to 21-10 on a 3-yard run by Reid Huseman and the Saugus defense forced its second turnover on Golden Valley’s next drive when Devin Thompson ripped the ball away from Grizzlies quarterback Zack Chevalier on a QB sneak.
The third and final turnover came when Thompson jumped a hook route and picked off Grizzlies quarterback Zack Chevalier for a 10-yard TD return, pushing Saugus’ lead to 28-10.
After a Golden Valley field goal, Saugus scored its final points on a 32-yard pass from Gallagher to James Sumpter.
“We weren’t looking at the scoreboard tonight, we were looking at how we played, and we played one heck of a football game,” said Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley. “We want to get better and we got better tonight.”
Golden Valley will continue to search for its first Foothill League win next week against Valencia and Saugus will look to keep rolling against West Ranch.