Centurions cash in
Saugus takes advantage of Indians’ special teams’ problems
By Joey Gulino
Signal Assistant Sports Editor
After 30 minutes of scoreless football, it came down to which team would make the first big mistake.
Hart did. The Indians made two, actually.
And Saugus didn’t let them go to waste.
The Centurions struck for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns off two turnovers and beat Hart 24-10 on Friday at College of the Canyons.
“We’ve been talking about it for seven weeks now,” said Saugus head coach Jason Bornn, “playing a game where we don’t give other teams opportunities.”
Instead, Saugus (4-3, 1-1) was handed extra opportunities by Hart’s special teams. After the Indians forced a three-and-out early in the third quarter, returner Tim White muffed the ensuing punt, giving Saugus the ball at its own 48.
The Centurions mounted a 10-play drive that culminated with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jared Carbajal to Zack Garcia to put Saugus up 6-0 after a missed extra point.
Things got worse for Hart almost immediately. Griffin Scott muffed the ensuing kickoff and gave Saugus possession at the Hart 28-yard line.
Saugus tailback Quentin Hendrix burst down the left sideline for 19 yards on first down, and one play later, he scampered in for a 9-yard touchdown.
Following a successful two-point conversion by Carbajal, Saugus was up 14-0. And the Indians paid for their miscues.
They had a chance to take the lead in the first half, but kicker Rhett Almond missed field goals from 29 and 24 yards out.
“Two missed field goals in the first half, the dropped punt, dropped kickoff return, that tells the game,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “That swung the game, swung the emotion.”
That said, Hart (5-2, 1-1) still wasn’t out of the game heading into the fourth quarter.
Saugus kicker Angie Weiner hit a 29-yard field goal as the third quarter ended, but the Indians responded on the next drive.
Quarterback Connor Wingenroth hit Tim White for a 54-yard pass that set up Hart with a first-and-goal from the Saugus 8.
On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Wingenroth’s second effort allowed Hart to cut the lead to 17-7 with 9:49 left.
But Saugus came up with a big fourth-down play of its own on the next drive to seal the victory.
On fourth-and-3 from the Hart 31, Carbajal hit tight end Cody Taylor down the middle for a 31-yard touchdown.
Carbajal said he knew the offense needed to capitalize on the second-half opportunities created by the defense, which held Hart to 292 yards of offense.
“We couldn’t ask much more of them,” Carbajal said. “We knew it was our time to step up and we did.”
Almond booted a 39-yard field goal with 4:30 left but Hart got no closer.
Carbajal accounted for 118 total yards, including 64 on the ground, although his numbers took a hit when he was forced to fall on a bad snap for a 29-yard loss.
Hendrix finished with 94 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Bornn said he was encouraged by the way that all three phases of the game contributed to the victory.
“Everything works in conjunction with each other,” he said.
Wingenroth outplayed senior Cory Mayes, with whom he shared snaps at quarterback, and threw for 122 yards on 4-of-12 passing.
Running back Dylan Edwards had 124 yards on 23 carries, although he only rushed for 16 yards in the second half.
Hart’s season so far bears a striking resemblance to last season, when it went 4-1 in preleague play, beat Golden Valley to open the Foothill League schedule and then lost a hard-fought game to Saugus.
Herrington said his team has no choice but to move forward.
“The coaches will go back to work and see what we can do,” he said. “We’ve got to teach these kids how to win in the Foothill League.”