Saddleback High School was overwhelming on offense for one half Saturday night, but a favorable bounce proved to be more important in its Sea View League opener against University.
Facing third and five on his 34-yard line, Roadrunner quarterback Sean Therien threw deep to wide receiver Mike Arroyos. University's Junior Oliver and Arroyos leaped simultaneously, but they deflected the ball into the hands of Saddleback's Neil Carter, who went the final 35 yards for a touchdown.
The ricochet gave the Roadrunners a three-touchdown lead with 7:37 left in the third quarter. That proved to be enough to hold off the Trojans, 21-10, in front of 2,000 spectators in Irvine Stadium.
"Take away that fluke touchdown and it's a different story," University Coach Mark Cunningham said. "But you have to give that Saddleback receiver credit. He knew where to be and made a great effort to make the catch."
The Roadrunners (4-2 overall, 1-0 in league) totaled 201 yards of offense in the first half to build a 14-0 lead.
With plenty of time to throw, Therien was 7 of 7 for 92 yards through the first two quarters and finished 9 of 11 for 163 yards. He completed two passes on Saddleback's second-quarter touchdown drive, including an 18-yarder to Frank Larriva on a third and nine that gave the Roadrunners a first down on the four.
Two plays later, Juan Valle scored on a two-yard run with 37 seconds left in the half.
Therien's success was mainly the result of his team's rushing attack, which consisted of Valle (84 yards in 17 carries) and Hymie Thurmond (124 yards in 17 carries). They alternated carrying the ball on the Roadrunners' initial drive, which covered 80 yards and ended with Valle's five-yard touchdown run.
The Roadrunners had 368 total yards for the game, but were hurt by 91 yards in penalties, which kept University (3-3, 0-1) in the game.
The Trojans rallied in the third quarter, as quarterback Jeff Bailey threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Marshall Francis to cut the deficit to 21-7 with 1:59 left in the quarter. Jim Roberson's 38-yard field goal made it 21-10 with 10:52 left in the game.