The No. 2 FC football team went into to No.3 Riverside's Wheelock Stadium on Saturday and beat the Tigers by one point margin 34-33.
Playing at Riverside City College is never an easy task as the Tigers historically play extremely tough on their home field. Tonight was no different as the Tigers gave the back-to-back national champs a serious run for their money.
The game opened with the FC defensive unit imposing a three-and-out on the Tiger's first offensive series. Fullerton's first drive was a success as they went for it on fourth down at the RCC 26-yardline and ended up getting more than a first down as Devon Quiros ran the ball across the goaline for six points. Left-foot kicker Corey Lewis was successful on the PAT.
The FC defense stalled out the next Riverside drive and the Hornet offense took advantage. FC sophomore quarterback Gresch Jensen led an eight-play 73-yard drive in which Jaire Moore punched it in from the one-yardline putting the Hornets up 13-0 at 6:05 in the first quarter (Lewis' PAT was blocked by Mitchell Agude).
The Tigers run game proved potent as Malik Walker ripped off a 34-yard run serving as a rally cry for the RCC faithful. From there, linebacker and last season's star quarterback Vic Viramontes ran the ball in from the 3-yardline (John Garibay's PAT kick was good).
The Hornets followed up with a long 13-play 85-yard drive that went into the second quarter and ended with a 19-yard TD pass from Jensen to Dennis Houston giving Fullerton a 20-7 lead at 14:25 in the second quarter.
Riverside answered the call scoring on a 10-play 84-yard drive that resulted in a score from 2-yards out on a Malik Walker run. As the first half came to an end, RCC was well in the game at 20-14 as both teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
After a few stalled drives to open the second half, the Tigers hit paydirt on an 8-play 57 yard drive that saw Walker take in his second TD of the game from 2-yards out. Riverside took their first lead of the game at 6:37 in the third quarter and they were not going away quietly.
With 3:40 left in the third quarter, Fullerton bounced back with a quick 88-yard passing TD from Jensen to Jawaun Johnson giving them a 28-21 lead.
RCC made their move scoring on their next two drives, which gave them a 33-28 lead with 9:31 left in the game. Stone Smartt led the way throwing a 5-yard pass to Antonio Mitchell and then taking one in himself from 13-yards out.
With their backs up against the wall, the Hornets managed to score on their very next drive. With 9:31 left in regulation, Jensen completed a series of passes that propelled FC down the field. Running back Infant Eckford took the reins and scored on a 2-yard run putting Fullerton up 34-33 with 5:20 left on the clock.
After both teams suffered stalled drives hurt by penalties, the Hornet defense once again found themselves in a "must-hold" situation. With 16 seconds left on the RCC 20-yardline, FC held strong thanks to a sack by Shane Darrow and an incomplete pass to end the game.
The Hornets had not played on Wheelock Field since 2015 and were beaten in 2014 by a score of 36-13. Tonight was a very good win for the Hornets over one of the country's better teams.
Up Next: Fullerton (2-0 overall) will host the 96th Key to the County game against Santa Ana College on Saturday, September 15th. Game time is at 12:00 pm. This is the state's oldest community college football rivalry-game dating back to 1916. Come on out and support your Hornets for this one!
*Photo by Matt Brown