For the West Ranch Wildcats, it was the calm before the storm on Friday night, as they trailed 14-0 against Saugus going into halftime.
As the clouds started darkening overhead and the rain started to hit the field in the second half, the West Ranch offense hit its stride, as the Wildcats scored 17 unanswered points to come out victorious 17-14.
West Ranch quarterback Weston Eget struggled in the first half, completing the same number of passes as interceptions: three.
He would throw a fourth interception in the middle of the third quarter, but that was one of the last mistakes Eget and the Wildcats’ offense would make.
“I knew he had it in him,” Wildcats running back Ryan Camacho said about his quarterback. “I knew he was going to find a way to get us back in this game. I’m really proud of him.”
West Ranch sealed the win on a 19-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Richie Padilla Jr. as time expired.
Wildcats head coach Chris Varner told his kicker to stay calm before heading out onto the field for the biggest play of his young career.
“I told him to relax and just do it, he does it everyday in practice,” Varner said. “He’s a first year player and has never been in this type of situation, but he nailed it.”
“Coach told me to just kick it through the uprights and I said, ‘yes coach,’” Padilla Jr. said. “I’ve been practicing so when it comes to this I’ll make it.”
The Wildcats sideline erupted after the game-winner sailed through the uprights, and Eget went to greet his kicker afterwards.
“I talked with Richie after the game, I’m excited and he’s excited,” Eget said. “I think he knows he did something special for us tonight.”
West Ranch got its first points of the game when Eget found senior wide receiver Jason Pobanz for a 37-yard strike with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.
Camacho tied the game in the fourth quarter, taking a handoff from Eget on fourth down. The Wildcats needed one yard for the first down. Camacho gained 37 yards for the score.
“I’m so proud of this team. We’ve been working hard all year and we couldn’t let it go to waste because of one bad half,” Camacho said. “We had little mistakes and we had to come out and correct those in the second half.”
The Centurions’ defense did their part to hold the Wildcats to their lowest score of the season. Safety Devin Thompson intercepted Eget on the first play of the game, which undeniably gave Saugus a boost in the first half.
Saugus running back Julian Bornn was able to capitalize on the early turnover, punching it into the end zone on a 3-yard run and giving Saugus the early 7-0 lead.
Running back Reid Huseman was the other scorer for Saugus, as he plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score near the end of the first half.
Cade Gallagher, Robert Vega and Matthew Ballentine were the other three Saugus defenders who recorded interceptions.
“I think we were a little ahead of ourselves,” Gallagher said about the difference between the two halves. “We should have played our game in the second half like we did in the first and it would have come out our way, but it didn’t end up that way.”
Saugus quarterback Cole Gallagher finished the game 10-for-17 with an interception.
Saugus will try to rebound next week when it takes on Valencia, which remains the other undefeated team in league after its 49-15 victory over Golden Valley.
West Ranch will look to continue its historic run, taking on Hart next week.