West Ranch football wins shortened game with Saugus 

West Ranch wide receiver Zehren Hilton (6) and Saugus defender Aaron Davis (27) fight for an incomplete West Ranch pass in the second quarter quarter at Valencia High School on Thursday,092123. Dan Watson/The Signal

West Ranch Wildcats football won a shortened game over the Saugus Centurions in Thursday’s Foothill League matchup at Valencia High School. 

The Wildcats were up 28-0 in the fourth quarter when Saugus’ Jayden Lepley went down with an injury. Lepley remained on the ground, conscious and mobile, but laid still while being assessed by the medical staff. He was stretchered off of the field by paramedics 15 minutes later.  

The freshman totaled six catches for 69 yards, including a huge 37-yard gain, before the injury.  

Jayden Lepley (34) of Saugus makes the catch against West Ranch defender Ty Garate (85) in the first half at Valencia High School on Thursday,092123. Dan Watson/The Signal

Cats junior Luke DePerno ran wild, totaling 144 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. DePerno missed last week’s game against Canyon with an injury but instantly showed he was ready to be back. The junior’s first touch was a 14-yard rush and he later added a 68-yard rushing touchdown. 

Saugus (0-6, 0-2) came up with numerous plays in the secondary, holding West Ranch’s high-flying offense at bay through the air in the first half. The move forced the Wildcats (4-2, 2-0) to play run-heavy, and head coach Chris Varner happily obliged.  

The Cats were held scoreless on their first two drives of the game, both of which ended in the red zone. However, on West Ranch’s third drive of the day, quarterback Liam McDaniel registered his first completion of the game just a few plays before DePerno’s first score of the game.  

McDaniel finished the game 12-for-25 with 125 passing yards. 

Saugus coincidentally found success in the passing game, while the rushing attack struggled as the Centurions were held to one rushing yard in the first half. 

West Ranch wide receiver Jett Hilst (12) makes the catch against Saugus defender Jake Abalos (13) and takes the ball to the one yard line to set up the first touchdown for West Ranch in the first quarter against Saugus at Valencia High School on Thursday,092123. Dan Watson/The Signal

Cents quarterback Jake Nuttall made some solid throws, long and short, in his second Foothill League game. Saugus picked up a handful of first downs in the first half but just couldn’t find points.  

West Ranch nearly took a four-score lead at the end of the half but Saugus corner Kayden Kai-Yeith reeled in a pick in the end zone.  

Sophomore Jayden Bayless also added a sack for the Centurions.  

Nuttall showed strong pocket presence and accuracy. The sophomore signal caller finished the game 24-for-35 with 176 passing yards. 

West Ranch extended its lead to 28-0 in the third quarter as McDaniel found Andrew Hamilton for a 10-yard touchdown pass. 

West Ranch defender Cohen Hernandez (5), right, recovers a Saugus High fumble in the first quarter at Valencia High School on Thursday,092123. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Wildcats now have three shutouts on the season and have won two straight games. 

West Ranch is heating up at just the right time and will look to stay hot next week when the team takes on Hart. 

Saugus showed tons of bright spots but right now the team’s focus is on Lepley. The Centurions will head onto the bye week and are slated to return to action on Friday, Oct. 6, against Hart at College of the Canyons. 

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