Fullerton Triumphs over Santa Monica in Playoffs

Santa Monica, CA- The seeded Fullerton Hornets and the seeded Santa Monica Corsairs kicked off the playoffs on a cold, windy afternoon at the 2003 US Bank and Beach Bowl. Both teams felt the early playoff jitters as both teams traded punts on their first possessions. Both teams were still not settled when Hornet's punt returnee Deonte Sharp muffed a return with 4:11 remaining in the opening stanza.

SMC recovered on their own 28 yard line and proceeded to give the ball right back to Fullerton when DL Johnny O'Quinn recovered a fumble by Corsair QB David Koral after a tremendous pass rush by the stinging Hornet D knocked the ball loose.

On the first play of the 2nd quarter, a Koral pass in heavy wind was picked off by DB Byron Walker. The play became controversial after SMC was called for holding before the pick and also called on the return team after the change of possession. After much reviewing by the referees, Fullerton took over on their own 11 yard line. On the ensuing drive, SMC missed several tackles and the size difference on both lines began to show in Fullerton's favor. The Corsairs received a clutch play from Brady Smith when he picked off a pass by Hornet QB Tom Kirchmeyer at the 10:05 mark as Fullerton looked to put the first points on the board.

On a play that typified the afternoon for SMC, Fullerton's Dustin Sober picked the ball right back as Koral again threw into the wind under heavy pressure. Sober returned the ball 13 yards and Fullerton scored 2 plays later when RB Alfred Guidry scampered in from a yard out with 7:20 left in the opening half. With 2:45 to go, SMC tied up the contest when Koral hit WR Warren Rodgers on a 40 yard toss. The ball hung in the wind, but the former sprint star at Gardena Serra and UCLA with 10.2 100 meter speed slowed and adjusted to the ball as the score was even at seven apiece. On the ensuing drive, Fullerton took advantage of the good field position awarded them by Larry Collins' 41 yard return as Kirchmeyer hit WR Chaz Guinn on a 30 yard post as Fullerton went ahead by seven. As opposed to Koral, the Hornet QB had ample time to wait until Guinn got free and hauled in the score.

The key moments on the ballgame took place in the final moments of the half as DL Gabe Long knocked Koral from the game on a big sack with 1:20 left. SMC punted and looked to regroup at the half down only seven, then gave up a huge 25 yard gain on a draw play as the defense was looking pass. Still the Hornets did not seem to be in range for a score until JC Grid-Wire All-American candidate K Sam Paulesco came on to boom a line drive 57-yard wind-aided field goal. Unlike track and field, the wind-aided mark stood and Fullerton received a big boost from the booming kick. Later, Paulesco added a booming 86 yard punt with only a 2 yard return as the wind was again to his back.

The snowball effect of the gift three points seemed to energize the Hornets and derail the Corsairs in the second half as Fullerton rattled off 28 unanswered points and thoroughly dominated the action. The scoring romp started when RB Justin Domineck ran in untouched from 15 yards out with 7:18 left in the third and continued when Guinn caught his 2nd scoring strike from 19 yards out on a toss by Kirchmeyer right before the start of the final stanza.

With 11:39 left in the tussle, Guinn set a Hornet bowl game record with his third scoring haul from 70 yards out. The final air strike was thrown by backup QB Justin Turner as Fullerton proceeded to call off the troops as the 4th quarter wore on. Sheldon Reid closed out the scoring on a 7 yard scamper with 8:09 left.

For his reception wizardry, Guinn was chosen as the US Bank and Beach bowl offensive MVP and for his defensive prowess, Long was chosen as the defensive MVP. On his record-setting day, Guinn finished with 119 yards on those 3 catches. Long finished with 7 tackles, 3 sacks (including the one that removed Koral from the contest) and a caused fumble.

For the Hornets, Domineck finished with 92 yards on 18 lugs, Guidry gained 88 yards on only 12 carries and Reid contributed 35 yards on only seven attempts and all three scored once. Kirchmeyer completed 6 passes on 15 attempts for 81 yards with one INT and Turner was 2 of 2 for 72 yards. The All-WSC pick Koral was 2 of 6 for 45 yards with two INTS before leaving the game and Mike Haley was 6 of 12 for 38 yards after replacing Koral.

Sharp looked to make up for his botched return by hauling in 4 catches for 21 yards for the Hornets. Former All-State WR B.J. Vickers from nearby Venice High and the rest of the highly regarded Corsair receiving corps did not have big games as the 25 MPH winds and relentless line pressure limited the SMC vertical passing game. Vickers finished the contest with only one reception for 5 yards as Rogers was the only SMC wide-out to catch more than one pass, hauling in 2 for 45 yards.

Note to four-year coaches: Guinn is a good-looking 'taller' receiver worthy of a good look. DT Long will be one of the top JC defensive tackles nationally next season.

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