By Justin Powell
For The Signal
Saugus senior quarterback Brady Welch sprung up from the turf at College of the Canyons, visibly upset, and immediately gave a Hart defensive player a shove and an earful. He stepped up in the pocket on the previous play (a thirrd down late in the second quarter) and was met with a blow to the face area from a Hart defender, violently spun and thrown down.
“I was upset they didn’t call the facemask,” said Welch after the game. “But I knew we were gonna bounce back and keep driving. It motivated us.”
The moment certainly seemed to have the motivating effect the Saugus quarterback thought it did. It came at a point in the first half where momentum had been swinging back and forth throughout the early part of the game. Saugus would go on to punt, but back-to-back sacks on the next Hart drive followed by a poor punt set the Centurions up with good field position and under two minutes to play in the second quarter.
With the clock ticking down and a 2nd and 6 from the 44-yard line, Welch dropped back to pass and delivered a strike over the middle to Sebastian Dallaire, and Dallaire broke a tackle and rumbled down the middle of the field for a 56-yard touchdown. It was the second perfect throw of the quarter for Welch, who dropped a 33-yard rainbow into the diving outstretched hands of AJ Goodman in the end zone, five minutes of game time earlier. Those touchdowns opened up a tight game and extended the Saugus lead from 7-6 to 21-6 by halftime, and the Centurions would never look back.
“We were ready to go (in the second quarter). The mistakes we made were on us and we come back always,” said the Centurions quarterback.
Hart came out flying around on defense in the first quarter, forcing the Saugus offense into some early mistakes.
After a 6-minute, 12-second opening drive that spanned 91 yards and was capped by an AJ Goodman 5-yard touchdown reception, Hart turned things around with an interception by senior cornerback Chase Depaco on the next Centurions possession that set the Indians up deep in Saugus territory. Depaco was excellent in coverage all night long, routinely breaking up passes that would have gone for explosive Saugus plays.
Hart plunged in from the 1-yard line on the ensuing drive for their lone touchdown of the game, but the extra point attempt was blocked.
The Indians’ defense hung tough all night, forcing three turnovers; however, they generated just six points off the takeaways.
“We knew their defense was their strong suit, so we expected it, but we made mistakes we shouldn’t have,” Welch added.
It was a mostly quiet second half, with neither team reaching the red zone until a Saugus drive with four minutes to play in regulation. Welch would connect with Dallaire for a 9-yard touchdown, his fourth touchdown pass of the game (Dallaire’s second touchdown reception), with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter. It extended the Centurions’ lead to 28-6, and that would be the game’s final score.
The win extends Saugus’ (6-1, 2-0) unbeaten streak in the Foothill League to eight games. They’ll face Golden Valley next week.
Hart (1-6, 0-2) dropped their fifth in a row, and will look to rebound next week when they host Valencia.