The Fullerton College Hornets’ football team improved to 4-0 with a 23-17 victory over the Golden West Rustlers in their conference opener, Saturday, at Yorba Linda High School. Both teams were 3-0 heading into the game.
Less than two minutes into the third quarter, the Hornets trailed 17-0. Golden West took their first drive of the second half 75 yards for a score. However, for the rest of the second half, the Hornets’ defense held the Rustlers to only 25 yards.
“We were kind of all over the place in the first half,” said sophomore linebacker Simon Poti. “But in the second, we got back to playing Hornet football, and getting multiple helmets to the ball on every play.”
The first half was plagued with turnovers for the Hornets. All three of the Hornets’ turnovers were in Golden West territory.
Ryan Byrd had the first fumble for the Hornets midway through the first quarter, at the Golden West 33-yard line. After a Golden West turnover, the Hornets took over at the Rustlers’ 20-yard line. On the first play, Lavorrie Johnson coughed up a fumble that Golden West recovered at their own 11-yard line.
Byrd also fumbled in the fourth quarter with the Hornets driving with a chance to take the lead.
The game-winning touchdown was scored by Byrd, with 3:40 remaining in the game. Byrd finished with 78 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.
“I had some pretty bad fumbles today,” Byrd said. “So, it felt really good to score the game winner like that.
Blake McKenzie got the start for the Hornets, with normal starter Jose Escobar out with a shoulder injury.
Escobar came into game for the Hornets late in the second quarter, and drove the Hornets down inside the 10-yard line, going 3-4 for 61 yards. His next pass was intercepted by linebacker Anthony McNichols at the 2-yard line, right before half time.
The Rustlers took a 10-0 lead into the half.
Midway through the third quarter, the Hornets finally broke through with a 7-yard touchdown pass by Escobar to Andrew Main. FC then successfully went for the 2-poiny conversion.
The Hornets managed to hold Golden West to a three-and-out on the ensuing drive and took the ball back on a punt. On the first play of their next drive, Lavorrie Johnson went off tackle on a run and took it for a 66-yard touchdown. The touchdown cut the deficit to 17-15.
He finished the game with 113 yards on 12 carries.
Early in the fourth quarter, Casey Eyman had a chance to give the Hornets the lead with a 25-yard field goal. He missed wide left and Golden West took over.
The FC defense held Golden West to only eight yards in the fourth quarter.
“The defense was great today,” said FC head coach Tim Byrnes. “They allowed us to come back in this game.”
After Byrd’s touchdown, the Rustlers had two chances to tie the game. The Hornets held Golden West to negative one yard on those two drives.
The Hornets will have a bye week next week before taking on the number one team in Southern California, Riverside College. The Hornets are ranked second.
“We really need to tighten things up over the next two weeks,” said Byrnes. “We can’t turn the ball over like that if we want to win.”
The game will be played Saturday, October 12, at 12:30, at Yorba Linda High.