East County Sports

Comets down Griffins; Mesa falls


from staff and wire reports

MISSION VIEJO — With a look-ahead spot just a week away, San Diego Mesa College blew its chance for a state playoff berth, falling to host Saddleback College, 41-31, at Swearingen Memorial Stadium.

The setback dropped the Olympians (3-2 overall, 1-1 NCSD) a full game behind tri-leaders Fullerton, Riverside, and the Bobcats (3-2 overall). Thus, they must sweep the remaining four games on their schedule, and then receive some help along the way.

Meanwhile, surging Saddleback collected its third straight win following an 0-2 start, rallying from an early 17-3 deficit by registering 31 consecutive points over 19 minutes.

Entering the contest midway through the second quarter Branden Berwald came off the bench at quarterback and gave the Bobcats a much-needed spark after the offense sputtered.

Berwald hit Tristan Duncan with a 17-yard scoring strike as the Bobcats narrowed the deficit to 17-10 with 3:31 remaining in the half.  He then scampered 17 yards for a score with 30 seconds left on the clock as the Bobcats and Olympians went to the locker rooms tied at 17-17.

Saddleback continued the surge when Will Craven returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bobcats a 24-17 lead.  Saddleback would later get a field goal from Kian Afrookhteh late in the third quarter and a touchdown run from Paolo Burak to open the fourth quarter, building up a 34-17 advantage.

San Diego Mesa finally answered with a 15-yard TD catch from Kader Diop to end the scoring string.

The Bobcats finished with seven tackles-for-loss and three sacks. led by Michael D’Amato (game-high 8 tackles) and  Travis Arena (6 tackles, 2.5 sacks).

Mesa, trailing 3-0, took a 17-3 lead with quarterback James Odom fired two TD passes, which sandwiched  1 24-yard field goal by Mauricio Escudero.

Odom (22-for-22, 126 yards) finished with three TD passes, while Branden Berwald (9-for-18, 96) fired another.

The Olympian’s top stopper was Eric Gant with 8 tackles (7 solos), but the defense failed to produce a turnover.

These schools have a long history, once meeting in the 1981 Pony Bowl held at Cerritos College in Norwalk. Mesa has a chance to win in the final seconds, but a fourth-down pass in the end zone was intercepted, giving Saddleback — then nicknamed the Gauchos — a dramatic 13-12 triumph in the fog.


ESCONDIDO — Grossmont College posted its best offensive showing since an overtime setback in Week 2 of the season, but the Griffins remain winless after falling to host Palomar, 43-16, at Escondido High School Stadium on Saturday (Sept. 30).

Grossmont (0-5 overall, 0-2 NCSD) woke up in the second half after trailing 28-3 at the intermission. The second half featured TD passes by Trenton Giles and Trevor Jungman.

The defense for the Griffins only allowed 349 total yards, but a pair of turnovers by the offense led to a pair of short TD drives for the Comets (2-3 overall, 1-1 NCSD). Palomar also recorded three TD drives of 80 yards or more, capped by a 90-yard march which was capped by a 78-yard Kiah Reid pass to his brother, Tate Reid.

Meanwhile, the Grossmont defense was fueled by SCFA tackles leader Colton Guerrero (Steele Canyon), who posted a whopping 18 tackles (15 solo), which is believed to be one short of the school record. In addition, Raymond Bernard (Patrick Henry) also reached double figures with 11 stops. Both are sophomore linebackers.


CHULA VISTA — According to a Southwestern College press release, Fullerton College took a bus to Devore Stadium. The result: the host Jaguars hot busted.

In one of the school’s biggest losses ever, winless Southwestern was no match for state-ranked and undefeated Fullerton, falling 59-7 to the Hornets on Saturday, Sept. 30) in SCFA National Conference South Division action at Devore Stadium.

Fullerton moves to (5-0 2-0 (NCSD) action; the Jaguars are transverse at 0-5 (0-2 NCSD).

The Hornets posted a 28-0 lead before the Jags hit the scoreboard late in the first half.

Following a bye date, Fullerton returns south to meet host San Diego Mesa in a special Thursday (Oct. 12) showdown, starting at 7 p.m. at Merrill Douglas Stadium.


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