SANTA ANA — Aron Garcia passed for a season-high 223 yards to help propel Sea View League-leading Irvine to a 33-0 victory over Saddleback at Santa Ana Stadium Friday night.
Garcia connected on 13 of 16 passes, including his last 10, to improve the Vaqueros' record to 7-1, 5-0 in league, and clinch a playoff berth for Irvine.
"Saddleback was well-prepared and we had a hard time running against them," said Irvine Coach Terry Henigan. "We took what we could get and Garcia was sharp."
Scott Seal scored three touchdowns for the Vaqueros and picked up 77 yards in 15 carries.
It was the Irvine defense, which recorded its fourth shutout of the season, that earned the first touchdown. Chris Esmond blocked a punt and fell on it in the end zone with 1 minute 6 seconds left in the first quarter.
"That was a big play," said Henigan.
Irvine scored three touchdowns in the second quarter. Seal scored from the 11 to give the Vaqueros a 12-0 lead with 9:14 left in the first half. Garcia hit Todd Thomas going full stride for a 65-yard scoring pass and Dave Bilek's first of three conversions increased the lead to 19-0.
Late in the half, Garcia hit on successive passes of 37 yards to Tony Arellano and 25 yards to Seal to set up Seal's five-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds left for a 26-0 lead.
Irvine scored on the opening drive of the second half with Seal pushing his way over from the one to cap a 12-play, 62-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes.
Danny Ruvolo hit six of 10 passes for 50 yards and Shon Caldwell and Aaron Pulsifer paced the Saddleback running attack with 32 and 41 yards apiece.