By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The nerves of what could be the final game of the season between these two teams truly showed as both teams had six penalties in the first half alone.
The Saugus Centurions lost to the Rancho Cucamonga Cougars 21-7 on Friday despite the Cougars losing 40 yards off of five penalties in their first offensive drive.
The drive was capped off by a 33-yard touchdown from quarterback Xavier Washington to wide receiver Julian Lundy. Lundy accounted for both touchdowns in the first half for the Cougars and finished with 104 receiving yards.
“(Washington) is a special football player,” said Centurions head coach Jason Bornn. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid dominate the game like that with his legs as well as his arms. We tried to do everything we could to contain him, but no matter what he did he exploited us and made it really difficult to defend. Hard to emulate a guy like him in practice and ultimately we came up short tonight.”
A Centurions defense that only gave up 69 points on the entire season quickly got into a hole, being down 14-0 by halftime. The Centurions had no answer for Washington, who finished the first half with 115 total yards.
The offense led by quarterback Brady Welch struggled against the Cougars’ front line, which produced four sacks. Outside linebacker Austin Treahy came up with an interception on Washington, but off a muffed play Welch fumbled the ball, which led to a 55-yard strike off a double pass play from Jason Harris Jr. to Lundy for his second score of the half. Lundy would finish the game with 109 receiving yards.
The Centurions were unable to avoid the first-half shutout, but looked to the second half to turn the game around. Unfortunately for the Centurions, the game script remained much the same.
Washington continued to show his blistering speed and playmaking ability despite throwing an interception early in the second half to linebacker Blake Zimmerman. Washington would finish the game with 193 passing yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 58 rushing yards on five carries.
The Centurions were able to avoid the shutout with a 13-yard pass from Welch to Sebastian Dallaire to make the game 14-7. Welch would finish the game with 105 passing yards and 38 rushing yards. Dallaire finished with 58 yards on seven catches.
“Setting school records, not just individual records but team records, are something I’ll always remember,” said Dallaire when asked to reflect on his season. “We have a group of guys that love each other. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to be a part of, especially in the sort of season we’ve had. Nothing beats those moments.”
As the game progressed, so did the aggression from the Centurions. The Centurions would finish the second half with multiple personal fouls on third down to only push the ball down further for the Cougars. The Cougars were able to capitalize and capped off their night with a 12-yard passing touchdown from Washington to Jonah Dawson, making the game 21-7 and ultimately sealing the win.
The Centurions end their season with a first-round exit, but as Foothill League champions.
“They showed a lot of grit and toughness,” said Bornn when asked for a last message to his graduating seniors. “That’s something a lot of young people are lacking and they showed it on a day-to-day basis.”