Culbert passes for 6 TDs in Rancho Alamitos win


GARDEN GROVE – Rancho Alamitos greatly improved its chances of earning a spot in the CIF-SS Division 11 playoffs with a 43-7 throttling of Santiago in a Garden Grove League game Thursday night.

Blake Culbert was excellent for the Vaqueros, completing 27 of 34 passes, including 13 in a row to start the game, for 359 yards and six scores.

“When he’s (Culbert) on, and we’ve got open receivers, we’re pretty good,” said Rancho Alamitos coach Mike Enright.

Rancho Alamitos (5-4, 2-2) will face Los Amigos (3-1 in league) next week in its final regular-season game. With a victory, the Vaqueros would secure one of the league’s three guaranteed playoff spots.

Rancho Alamitos jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with touchdown passes to Christian Villareal and Cross Faletoi before Santiago (1-8, 0-4) got on the board with a 3-yard TD run by Dylan Ourng. The Vaqueros responded with another touchdown drive; this time Culbert found Jesse Candelario for an 18-yard TD pass.

Rancho Alamitos’ defense forced a punt on the following drive, but muffed the catch, setting up the Cavaliers with prime field position.

But the Vaqueros’ defense stepped up and drove Santiago backward, forcing a failed fourth-down conversion try. The defensive stand was followed by another Culbert touchdown pass, this one to Villareal. Villareal then picked off Santiago, setting up Faletoi’s second TD of the half.

Culbert connected with Faletoi in the second half for the duo’s third TD pass and Culter’s sixth. Faletoi finished with seven catches for 108 yards, while Candelario added 11 catches for 87 yards.

“Its great when you get to spread the ball around,” said Culbert, whose six TDs are a career high. “The defense couldn’t focus on any one guy.”

Rancho Alamitos held Santiago to 88 total yards.

Santiago (1-7, 0-3) will play Bolsa Grande next week.

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