Mt. SAC Dethrones Fullerton

Mt. San Antonio might have qualified for the playoffs as the wild card team, but Saturday afternoon the Mounties made a statement that they are the team to beat by routing defending Southern California champion Fullerton, 44-14, Saturday afternoon in the Southern California Bowl at Yorba Linda High School.

Mt. SAC (9-2) took the opening kickoff, drove down the field for a touchdown and kept expanding that lead, opening a stunning 44-6 lead by the end of the third quarter over the host Hornets. Justin Alo's 30-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Gilchrist set the tone for the afternoon just 3:25 into the first quarter.

And the Mt. SAC line - on both sides of the ball - made sure the Mounties stayed in control. Omaris Tolbert rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns on offense, while the Mt. SAC defensive line registered 7 sacks of standout Fullerton quarterback Joey Verhaegh and forced 4 Hornet turnovers.

Perhaps the key play of the game happened late in the first quarter with Mt. SAC already leading, 10-0. Verhaegh scrambled to his left and appeared to be headed towards the end zone, or at least close to it, when Stiveni Tamaivena knocked the ball loose. Lolani Fa'aloua recovered the fumble at the Mt. SAC 1 yard-line.

Fullerton (8-3) forced a punt and eventually got a 34-yard field goal from Casey Eyman, but Mt. SAC, having avoided allowing the touchdown, stayed in control of the game. And by the time Fullerton scored again, the Mounties already had 30 points and were well on their way to a commanding victory.

Mt. SAC answered Eyman's first-quarter field goal with a 6-play, 87-yard drive, with Tolbert scoring on a 2-yard run to make it 17-3. Alberto Reyes-Villareal booted two short field goals later in the second quarter to give the Mounties a 23-3 lead at the half.

Then it took just 39 seconds of the second half for Mt. SAC to take complete control, again with the defense making the play. Safety Christopher Solomon blitzed and caught Verhaegh, and knocked the ball free. Sulisi Tamaivena picked up the loose ball and carried it into the end zone for a 26-yard fumble return to push Mt. SAC's lead to 30-3.

Eyman kicked a long field goal - from 45 yards out - midway through the third quarter, but Mt. SAC got a 14-yard touchdown run from Tolbert just 1:09 later to maintain control. Then Tyquwan Glass intercepted a Verhaegh pass and returned it to the Hornet 32. Four plays later, Tony Gates scored on an 11-yard run to make it 44-6.

Fullerton got a consolation touchdown in the late stages of the fourth quarter, but by then both teams were deep into their benches. Oran Maxwell scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 9-play drive with 2:53 remaining. Back-up quarterback Chris Jeffrey threw a pass to Howard Guata for the two-point conversion to close out the scoring.

For Mt. SAC, Alo completed just 17 of 38 passes but gained 261 yards and threw for the game's first touchdown. Tolbert led all rushers with his 76 yards and he had the two touchdowns. Receiver Derrick Macon had 6 catches for 86 yards and was named Mt. SAC's Player of the Game. 6-7 Defensive End Elisinoa Aluesi was a visible presence all day, earning MVP honors and registering one of Mt. SAC's 7 quarterback sacks.

For Fullerton, Verhaegh completed 21 of 39 passes for 175 yards and 2 interceptions. Khalil Wilson had 8 carries for 68 yards. Receiver Ryan Markush was one of the few Hornet standouts with 6 catches for 66 yards and also 4 punt returns for 74 yards. Defensive back Austin Steele was named Fullerton's Player of the Game.

With the win, Mt. San Antonio advances to the Southern California championship game against top-seeded Riverside next Saturday at 6 pm at Wheelock Stadium in Riverside.

Mt. San Antonio Mounties 44
Fullerton Hornets 14

Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 1 pm - Shapell Stadium (Yorba Linda HS)
Southern California Bowl - Playoffs - First Round

1st Quarter: M - Gilchrist 30 yd pass from Alo (Reyes-Villareal kick) 11:35 (7-0)
M - FG Reyes-Villareal 29 yds 5:20 (10-0)

2nd Quarter:
F - FG Eyman 34 yds 14:55 (10-3)
M - Tolbert 2 yd run (Reyes-Villareal kick) 13:20 (17-3)
M - FG Reyes-Villareal  29 yds 8:16 (20-3)
M - FG Reyes-Villareal 34 yds 1:06 (23-3)

3rd Quarter:
M - Sulisi Tamaivena 26 yd fumble return (Reyes-Villareal kick) 14:21 (30-3)
F - FG Eyman 45 yds 7:03 (30-6)
M - Tolbert 14 yd run (Reyes-Villareal kick) 5:54 (37-6)
M - Gates 11 yd run (Reyes-Villareal kick) 1:16 (44-6)

4th Quarter:
F - Maxwell 1 yd run (Gauta pass from Jeffrey) 2:53 (44-14)

Team Statistics:

First Downs: Fullerton 21 (8 rush, 10 pass, 3 penalty), Mt. SAC 25 (9 rush, 12 pass, 4 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Fullerton 33-110, Mt. SAC 38-138
Passing Yds: Fullerton 175, Mt. SAC 261
Comp-Att-Int: Fullerton 22-41-2, Mt. SAC 17-41-2
Return Yds: Fullerton 160, Mt. SAC 109
Sacks-Yds: Fullerton 0-0, Mt. SAC 7-59
Fumbles-Lost: Fullerton 2-2, Mt. SAC 2-0
Penalties-Yds: Fullerton 11-105, Mt. SAC 11-62
Time of Possession: Fullerton 31:11, Mt. SAC 28:49

Individual Statistics:

Rushing: F 28-Wilson 8-68, 3-Maxwell 8-38, 16-Jeffrey 3-3, 9-Verhaegh 14-1; M 28-Tolbert 16-76, 5-Alo 6-19, 48-Wilson 2-14, 37-Hunter 5-13, 15-Gates 2-12, 22-Vaughns 4-9, 45-Logologo 1-6, 26-Polk 1-(-1), team 1-(-10)
Passing: F 9-Verhaegh 21-39-2-175; 16-Jeffrey 1-2-0-0; M 5-Alo 17-38-1-261, 1 TD; 16-Orozco 0-2-0-0; 13-Simko 0-1-1-0
Receiving: F 89-Markush 6-66, 5-Gainey 5-30, 43-Holt 4-64, 88-Smith 1-12, 24-Gauta 1-6, 8-Reece-Scott 1-5, 3-Maxwell 1-0, 28-Wilson 1-(-1), 27-Sam 1-(-2), 82-Lowery 1-(-5); M 1-Macon 6-86, 6-Gilchrist 4-64, 11-Anderson 2-49, 4-Simpson 2-30, 84-Manley 1-18, 28-Tolbert 1-10, 85-Dayao 1-4
Interceptions-Ret Yds: F 14-Kirkpatrick 1-0, 31-Williams 1-0; M 2-Glass 1-58, 97-Moala 1-0
Fumble Rec: F none; M 42-Sulisi Tamaivena 1-26, 90-Fa'aloua 1-0
Sacks-Yds: F none; M 20-Solomon 1-13, 97-Moala 1-11, 60-Kohitolu 1-10, 94-Aluesi 1-8, 42-Sulisi Tamivena 1-7, 17-Magalei 1-5, 34-Osborn 1-5
Punters: F 60-Eyman 7-42.3 avg; M 61-Fulham 5-42.0 avg
Kick Returns: F 3-Maxwell 3-64, 20-Wills 1-22; M 48-Wilson 1-13, 22-Vaughns 1-12
Punt Returns: F 89-Markush 4-74; M none
Missed FG: F 60-Eyman 37 yds (wide right); M none

Notes: MVP: Elisinoa Aluesi, DL, Mt. SAC. Fullerton Player of the Game: Austin Steele, DB. Mt. SAC Player of the Game: 1-Derrick Macon. Both teams entered with 8-2 records. Key play: Already trailing, 10-0, Fullerton had a chance to score when Verhaegh was headed towards the end zone but he was stripped of the ball by 43-Stiveni Tamaivena; Fa'aloua recovered for Mt. SAC. Solomon's sack forced the fumble Sulisi Tamaivena returned for the TD. Mt. SAC's final TD came four plays after Glass' interception and return. Fullerton tried an onsides kick after its TD but 25-Waldenberger recovered for Mt. SAC.

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