Coming off a 31-0 blowout win against Southwestern College, Fullerton College faced Saddleback College Saturday. Despite struggles on both sides of the ball, the Hornets persevered for their third straight win over the Bobcats 31-30.

During the game, one of the bright spots on offense was sophomore running back Branden Rankins. The Hornets (6-2) rallied behind Rankins’ 148-yards and two touchdowns beating the Bobcats (3-6).

“We knew we were gonna have to ride him. We had planned that as the season progressed his carries were gonna increase and he had 14 carries at halftime when he had about 16 on average in previous games,” said head coach Garrett Campbell on Rankins’ performance.

Hornets freshman running back Branden Rankins bullies his way through three defenders enroute to his 148-yard and two touchdown performance. Hornets were able to rally behind the running back for a 31-30 win.

Fullerton College freshman running back Branden Rankins bulldozes his way through three defenders en route to a 148-yard and two-touchdown performance. The Hornets were able to rally behind Rankins for a 31-30 win against the Bobcats. Photo credit: Matt Brown

Rankins ran the ball fiercely and would not be denied this game, as shown by an explosive 62-yard run into Bobcats territory and finishing the drive with a touchdown late in the first quarter.

“What motivates me is trying to put my family in a better living situation,” said Rankins on his motivations for the game. “Football is what’s motivating me but besides that is God and family. If I got two of those things then I don’t fear no man.”

The Hornets offense struggled early on with a quick three-and-out that proved to be costly as a botched punt set up the Bobcats with great field position resulting in a Saddleback touchdown.

Throughout the game, bad snaps and mistakes by the offense created problems and missed opportunities. Regardless the Hornets battled to keep themselves within scoring reach of their opponent.

Freshman running back Branden Rankins displays his olympic prowess as he jumps over a defender to gain the extra yardage for the first down.

Freshman running back Branden Rankins displays his Olympic prowess as he jumps over a defender to gain the extra yardage for the first down. Fullerton College defeated Saddleback College Saturday with a suspenseful 31-30 win. Photo credit: Matt Brown

“At the end of the day they made a good play and we just had to respond to what they did. … Every time they did something we responded in a way that made the team want to get better,” said Rankins about struggles during the game and persevering. “Of course the tackle for loss killed momentum but if you let one drive kill your momentum, then you’re not meant to win that game.”

With less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, freshman quarterback Chandler Galban connected with sophomore wide receiver Dejonte Thomas for a 28-yard touchdown taking the final lead to 31-30.

Sophomore wide receiver Dejonte Thomas celebrates with fellow teammate freshman wide receiver Jordan Smith after scoring the touchdown to lead 31-30 over the Bobcats late in the fourth quarter.

Hornets sophomore wide receiver Dejonte Thomas celebrates with fellow teammate freshman wide receiver Jordan Smith after scoring a touchdown to lead 31-30 over the Bobcats late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. Photo credit: Matt Brown

Though the defense had their fair share of problems as well, The Hornets defense started out quite well with freshman defensive back Oshea Davis intercepting Bobcats quarterback Drew Nash. Then with just two minutes left, the defense came in clutch with two sacks on a crucial drive to seal the game.

Head coach Garrett Campbell prepares his players after celebrating a previous score.

Fullerton College Head Coach Garrett Campbell prepares his players after celebrating a previous score on Saturday in a win over Saddleback College. Photo credit: Matt Brown

The Hornets special teams came up big and were able to block three field-goal attempts by the Bobcats.

“It was really more about executing your plays … in all phases — offense, defense and special teams,” said Campbell on overcoming adversity and what helped the team prevail. “We blocked like three field goals, things like that may not always be recognized but those are huge momentum shifters.”

Fullerton College looks to extend its three-game win streak to four games as they face Golden West College (8-0) at Long Beach next Saturday, Nov. 13 at 12 p.m.

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Ethan Ahoia (he/him) is a journalism major from La Mirada, CA. In his free time, he enjoys writing poetry, watching movies, and playing with his labradoodle.