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PREP EXTRA / FRIDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT : Saddleback Returns to Playoffs


TUSTIN — Saddleback is heading to the playoffs for the first time in six years.

The Roadrunners used an effective ground game to overwhelm host Tustin, 30-0, in a Golden West League game Thursday night.

Three touchdowns by Omar Palacios and 119 yards rushing by Danny Verino led the way for Saddleback, which earned its first postseason berth since 1988.

"These kids don't know any of the treats or the rewards of the playoffs," Saddleback Coach Jerry Witte said. "But they've worked hard for this. And we deserve it."

Saddleback (4-6 overall, 3-2 in league), with offensive linemen Jimmy Ambriz and Morrow Potts dominating up front, scored on its opening two drives and had no trouble with Tustin. A 44-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Danny Rodriquez to Gary Critchfield gave the Roadrunners a 7-0 lead with only 2 minutes 33 seconds gone in the first quarter.

On its next possession, Saddleback ground out a 53-yard drive in 11 plays--all on the ground--as Palacios scored on a two-yard run with 3:26 left in the first.

A 38-yard field goal by Joseph Meza late in the second quarter made it 17-0. Palacios scored on a one-yard run at 8:57 of the third, then caught a seven-yard scoring pass from Rodriquez four minutes later to finish the rout.

Tustin (1-9, 1-4), which has lost 15 of its last 16 games, managed only 72 yards in offense and committed five turnovers.

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