First-half struggles spell trouble for Saugus football against Redondo Union

Saugus junior quarterback Colton FitzGerald scrambles in a nonleague matchup with Redondo Union at Cougar Stadium Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

It was a rude awakening for the Saugus football team in the first half of Friday night’s game against Redondo Union. 

Heading into its home opener, Saugus was dripping with confidence after shutting out its two previous opponents. However, Redondo quickly squashed that confidence by scoring on its first drive of the game and holding the Centurions to a scoreless first half on the way to a 42-21 win. 

Saugus (2-1) struggled to wrap up the opposition and get off blocks in the first half, leading to a 28-0 deficit that was too difficult to overcome in the final two quarters. 

“When you look at the game and how it was going in the first half, they were just flat out blocking and tackling better than us,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn. “The scheme wasn’t the issue. The issue was they were doing a much better job of blocking, and we couldn’t get off blocks, and they were doing a much better job tackling than what we were doing. That’s ultimately what it came down to.”

Saugus senior Josh Bond runs the ball in a nonleague matchup with Redondo Union at Cougar Stadium Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Redondo (2-0) quarterback Daniel Webb connected with wide receiver Markeece Alexander for a 13-yard score on the opening drive.

A few minutes later Alexander scored again, intercepting Saugus quarterback Colton FitzGerald and taking it back for a touchdown.

The interception was FitzGerald’s first of the season, and the junior signal-caller struggled to find his rhythm in the first half going 3-of-8 for 18 yards.

FitzGerald was dealing with health issues throughout the week, but showed resolve as he led his team to three scoring drives in the second half. He finished the game 14-of-31 for 167 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He added 31 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.

“He is a tough dude. He’s been going through medical issues all week. He’s one of the toughest guys I know,” said Saugus wide receiver and defensive back Azariah Beaugard about his quarterback. “He’s been in the ER — that’s a tough dude right there. I respect that man a lot, and he really busted his butt today.”

Saugus junior quarterback Colton FitzGerald drops back to pass in a nonleague matchup with Redondo Union at Cougar Stadium Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Webb scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter, both on 3-yard quarterback runs. 

Trailing big after two quarters, the leaders of Saugus got together at halftime and brought their teammates’ spirits back up, reminding them what Saugus football is all about. 

“All the Centurions, all the leaders we got up, we had to help ourselves first to make sure our team was good, hype up our team, so we could come out and put up those three touchdowns,” Beaugard said. “We had to remind ourselves that we’re Saugus football. We’re going to play four quarters next week and the week after that and the rest of the season. What happened tonight is not going to happen again.”

Saugus scored its first points in the third quarter, as FitzGerald connected with Julian Bornn for a 31-yard score.

Immediately after, the Centurions executed an onside kick and recovered, setting up good field position for FitzGerald to hit Josh Bond for a 48-yard screen pass. FitzGerald capped off the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. 

Saugus junior quarterback Colton FitzGerald holds up the ball in the end zone following a QB sneak for a touchdown in a no-league matchup with Redondo Union at Cougar Stadium Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Bond finished the game with 14 carries for 32 yards and four receptions for 70 yards.

The Sea Hawks took momentum back on the next kickoff, as Alexander returned the kick 90-plus yards for a touchdown.

Beaugard came up with a huge interception in the third quarter, once again setting the offense up with good field position. FitzGerald found Cade Gallagher for a 41-yard strike on fourth down, bringing the score to 35-21. 

It was the last touchdown Saugus would score on the evening and Redondo added one more score near the end of the third quarter to put the game away for good.

Saugus will look to rebound next week as it heads to Thousand Oaks for its third road contest in the first four games of the season.

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