The FC football kicked off the 2019 season on Saturday against visiting Golden West College, and held off the surging Rustlers 38-33.
The Hornets picked up where they left off last season scoring quick and often. Taking a 21-3 lead in the first quarter, it looked as if the game was going to be a blowout, however the Rustlers had other plans.
Golden West pushed down the field in their maiden offensive series ending it with a 28-yard field goal by Jose Arredondo.
Fullerton went on to take advantage of the GWC defense getting into the end zone on their second and third possessions. Commans took the ball in from the 1-yardline after driving down the field 78 yards in 14 plays. After picking up the ball on a bad snap to the punter, the Hornets were in great field position to score from the 25-yardline. After two plays, running back Lucky Avinger took the ball past the goaline from 16 yards out.
With 3 seconds left in the first quarter, the game took a strange turn as a Cooper Callis throw from Fullerton's 3-yardline was tipped, hit a helmet, and caught by Rustler VJ Malo. Malo proceed to run the ball into the end zone for GWC's first touchdown of the game.
FC went into the second quarter with a 21-10 lead and added to it at 7:50 when Commans tossed a 15-yard TD to Kailan Noseff.
The Rustlers answered back with a touchdown with 3 minutes left in the half. Quarterback Zach Lewis came in for Nathaniel Espinoza, who was injured during the previous play. Lewis proved worthy throwing the ball in a rope where only his receiver Adam Armstrong could catch it. Armstrong's catch was a fine display of balance, strength, and concentration.
Both teams headed to their respective lockerooms at the half with Fullerton leading 28-17.
The Hornet defense forced Golden West into a quick three-and-out to begin the second half giving the offense a chance to put another touchdown on the board. Running back Alfonzo Graham capped off a 6-play 35-yard drive hitting paydirt from 3 yards out.
The third quarter was relatively quiet with FC kicker Alec Fonseca putting up 3 points with his leg, a 31-yard shot at 8:04.
Dark clouds formed over the Hornets in the fourth quarter as they committed two costly fumbles that seemed to stymie the offense. For the remainder of the game, the Hornets could not get it together as the Rustlers scored two unanswered touchdowns to creep back in the game. Lewis threw a 1-yard TD to Trevor Hobbs and Lewis hit David Atencio in stride for a 60-yard score.
With just over five minutes left in the game, the FC defense stepped up big forcing the surging Rustler offense to punt after three plays. The GWC punt put Fullerton in dangerous territory back on their own 7 yard line. Committing 4 turnovers on the day, one had to wonder if there was another coming. Fortunately, the FC offensive unit remained focus and in control as they ran the clock down to the final seconds. With 4 seconds left on fourth down, Commans took the ball from under center from the 22 and ran backwards through the back of the end zone for a safety as the final second ran off the clock. Fullerton held on for a 38-33 non-conference win.
Up Next: The Hornets (1-0 overall) will host another one at Yorba Linda High's Nathan Shapell Stadium on Saturday, September 14th when they welcome the No. 1 team in the country (JCGridiron) Riverside City College. Kickoff is at 1:00 pm. Come on out for this one and support your Hornets!
*Photos by Matt Brown