Estancia quarterback Eric Carrasco is sacked during the second quarter of Friday's Orange Coast League game against Saddleback at Santa Ana Stadium. Estancia turned to Carrasco because starting quarterback Connor Brown separated his left shoulder in practice Tuesday.

Jimenez keeps Saddleback alive in victory over Estancia


SANTA ANA – Saddleback’s Jacob Jimenez was at the right place at the right time.

With Estancia threatening to add to its lead early in the second half, Jimenez provided the biggest play of the game – and possibly the season – as he intercepted an errant pass in the end zone and raced 102 yards for a touchdown.

The Roadrunners forced two more turnovers in the half and the Eagles never recovered as Saddleback went on to record a come-from-behind 17-10 victory Friday night in an Orange Coast League game at Santa Ana Stadium.

“I just saw the ball and had to take it,” Jimenez said. “I had to make a play to help the team.”

The play helped the Roadrunners (6-4, 3-2) take third place in league and an automatic berth to the CIF-Southern Section Southern Division playoffs. The triumph also marked the first time Saddleback has advanced to the postseason in back-to-back seasons since 1985-86.

“I just kept telling the kids we’ll get the breaks in the second half, and we did,” Saddleback fifth-year coach Rob Thompson said.

Two plays after Jimenez’s pick, senior Jonathan Reyes made a diving interception at the Estancia 29. Seven plays later – all runs by Giovanni Estrada, including the last from 3 yards – the Roadrunners were back in the end zone and leading, 17-7, with 4:28 left in the third quarter.

Estancia (3-7, 2-3) cut the lead to 17-10 following a 38-yard field goal by Christopher Moya with 2:38 remaining in the game, but Saddleback ran out the clock following five consecutive runs by Estrada that led to two first downs.

Estrada finished with 113 yards on 31 carries.

“We’re excited and glad to be in,” Thompson said. “This was a big win for the program. I don’t care who we play (next week), we just wanted to make the playoffs.”

Estancia played without starting quarterback Connor Brown, who separated his left shoulder in a defensive drill in practice on Tuesday. Junior Eric Carrasco, a transfer from Costa Mesa, started and completed 12 of 16 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.

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