The No. 1 Hornet football team opened the 2018 season by dodging a bullet on Saturday afternoon getting past No. 23 Golden West College 30-27 in a non-conference road game.
Fullerton struck first at 9:22 in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by sophomore running back Infant Eckford (PAT by Corey Lewis). Prior to the touchdown, the FC defense recovered a fumble on the GWC 41-yardline and went on to score in five plays.
The Rustlers came back with a TD of their own in their next drive on a 28-yard strike from Beau Kalbacher to Ben Ratzlaff. The PAT failed due to a low snap and ball bounced off of the upright.
Golden West took their only lead of the game at 12:47 in the second quarter on another touchdown pass combination of Kalbacher to Ratzlaff from 10-yards out.
Down 13-7, the Hornets returned the favor on their next drive at 10:14 when freshman Devin Moore took one to the house on a 20-yard scamper. The point-after was blocked by Justin Parker forcing a 13-13 tie.
Fullerton's defense forced a quick three-and-out, and the offense quickly took advantage scoring on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Zach Smith to Robert Downs. Downs caught the ball about 15-yards out and then used his speed to break free from four Rustler defenders (Lewis's PAT good).
FC added to their lead with 20 seconds left in the first half when Lewis knocked in a field goal from 37-yards out.
Up 23-13, the Hornets opened up the second half with a TD pass from sophomore Gresch Jensen to sophomore Jawaun Johnson for 88-yards. Johnson caught a 10-yard pass and broke free using another gear to score six from deep in the Rustlers end of the field (Pat by Lewis).
Holding a healthy 30-13 lead, Fullerton looked to be in total control of the ball game, but Golden West had other plans. Kalbacher and Ratzlaff struck again on a 32-yard score with 6:24 left in the third quarter.
Kalbacher torched the Hornets again to start the fourth quarter (14:53), this time from 29-yards out to David Antencio. GWC went for two and went back to the well with success, Kalbacher to Antencio.
The game remained scoreless for the entire fourth quarter as the Fullerton defense held strong forcing two three-and-out drives and one four-and-out drive to hold on for the win.
Since 2000, Fullerton has had great success on opening day suffering only three losses with a healthy sixteen wins.
Up Next: The Hornets (1-0 overall) will play again on the road at #4 Riverside City College on Saturday, September 8th at 6:00 pm.
*Photos by Matt Brown