The Hornets trailed by seven with a little over five minutes to work with when the drive was ended on a Golden West interception. The Hornet defense showed no quit forcing Rustler receiver Josh Smith to fumble. The ball was recovered by sophomore safety Tim Roberts on the Hornets own 16-yard line giving the Hornets one more chance with 2:21 to play.
After leading the team into Rustler territory, the Hornets faced a fourth down. Quarterback Trey Tinsley was unable to find a receiver and the Hornets turned the ball over on downs to end a frustrating night for the Hornets offense.
“We had chances and opportunities to make plays down the stretch and we didn’t and they did,” said head coach Tim Byrnes. “We need to do a better job of executing to close out games.”
An interception late in the third quarter set the Rustlers deep into Hornet’s territory. The Rustlers settled for a 20-yard field goal by freshman kicker Humberto Maciel that cut the Hornet lead 17-10 with 13:41 left in game.
Fullerton was forced to punt on their next possession and the Rustlers, who were up against the clock wasted no time taking the ball 73 yards for the touchdown to tie it up in only 2:27. The score came on a 9-yard pass from Rustler quarterback Adam Vance to receiver Quest Truxton.
Golden West capped off three scores in as many possessions when Smith ran it in the end zone for a 4-yard score to give the Rustlers a 24-17 lead with five minutes to play.
The Hornets defense who held the Rustlers to just seven points through three quarters was unable to hold after being on the field most of the second half. The Hornets allowed 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter and lost their second conference game in as many weeks.
The big play of the night came on a goal-line stance by the Hornet defense midway through the second quarter. Golden West had possession on the Hornet 1-yard line when Rustler quarterback Nick Sternard fumbled the ball, Hornet freshman linebacker Thomas Cletcher picked up the loose ball and took it 99 yards for the score to extend the lead 10-0.
“I saw the ball on the ground and saw an opportunity to make a play and went as hard as I could to score for our team,” said Cletcher.
Cletcher led the defense with 10 tackles including two tackles for a loss, and a fumble recovery.
The Hornets lone score in the second half came with five minutes left to play in the third quarter when Tinsley found sophomore tight end Tim Holt for a 19-yard touchdown.
Sophomore kicker Tavis Guerra opened the scoring for Fullerton with a 26-yard field goal with 6:38 left in the first quarter.
The Hornets (2-3, 0-2) look to get back on track next week when they face Riverside College (4-0, 1-0) at home Saturday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m.