HOW FULLERTON WON THE WAR WITH MT. SAC

Last weekend, Mt. San Antonio (#1 seed; 10-1) sought to defend their home turf against #4 seed Fullerton. The game was a classic that came down to the last play. In the end, Fullerton held on to avenge a regular season defeat (15-7) to Mt. SAC. Since that setback, the Hornets have not lost, reeling off 7 consecutive victories. This Saturday they'll travel to Grossmont with the winner representing Southern California in the State Championship game on Dec. 13.

On the opening drive of the ballgame, Fullerton was forced to punt after their drive stalled. The punt sailed into the end zone and the Mounties took over at the 20.  Mt. Sac's first drive also stalled and when forced to punt, Hornet LB Scott Genord blocked the attempt and Fullerton took over at the 12 yard line of Mt. SAC.  Two plays later, QB Tom Kirchmeyer scored on a QB keeper from one yard out with 10:26 remaining in the 1st quarter. 

On the next possession, Mt. Sac was forced into a 3 and 14 situation after an intentional grounding call, but All-American WR Delanie Walker came up with his first (of many) big plays on the afternoon, hauling in a  spectacular 21-yard reception, dragging defenders for extra yardage.  Fullerton forced another third down, and this time they came up with the defensive play as SS Eli Curtis batted away a long bomb from QB Adam Ernst to force another punt. 

On the next series, Fullerton went ahead by 14 points when Kirchmeyer hit WR Nathan Roberts on a 15 yard TD reception with 4:58 remaining in the opening quarter.  Fullerton held again on the next series and when the Hornets got the ball back, they quickly went up 21-0 on a two yard plunge from RB Justin Domineck with 1:54 remaining in the quarter.  The touchdown followed a huge 67 yard reception down to the 2-yard line by WR Chaz Guinn, who made big plays all game long.

The first quarter ended with Fullerton leading 21-0.  The Hornet O-line was neutralizing the Mounties D-Line up to that point, as Kirchmeyer had ample time to find his targets.  On the other hand, Mt. Sac was uncharacteristically heaving the ball downfield and abandoning their short passing and running game.  They finally got on track early in the 2nd stanza, going underneath to Walker and finding daylight for RB Cazmir Hill, who plunged in from four yards out with 12:15 remaining in the half to make the score 21-7.

Just as Mt. SAC looked to gain momentum, Guinn broke their backs, scoring on a weaving, cross-field 89 yard TD reception with 7:51 left in the half.  Guinn broke free across the middle, headed up the left sideline, and when he knew he could not out run the last two Mt. SAC defenders, he cut back against the grain and sprinted the last 30 yards straight up the middle of the field.  Mt. SAC regained focus on the next drive, keeping the ball on the ground.  On a key 4 and 2 with 5:32 left in the half, Hill kept the drive going on a short gain.  Moments later, RB Sione Tavake hit pay dirt from a yard out, making the score 28-14. 

With the first half winding down, it looked as if Fullerton would enter the locker room with a two touchdown lead until the Hornets tried a trick play on 3 and 1 with :48 seconds on the clock.  They looked to execute a delayed, Statue of Liberty heave downfield, but blitzing SS Bobby Godinez and the Mounties D-line snuffed out the play and sacked Kirchmeyer.  With only 10 seconds remaining in the half, Mt. SAC went to their money play-the middle screen and their money player--Walker.  The All-American caught the ball across the middle of the field, followed his lead blocks, and sprinted up the right sideline as the trick play backfired on the Hornets.  Mt.SAC went into the half down only seven, although they were thoroughly outplayed.

Walker kept the momentum going for Mt. SAC when he returned the second half kick-off 38 yards to give the Mounties good field position.  It was all for naught as the stinging Hornet D held.  When Fullerton regained possession, the Mountie D forced a 3 and 6 with 12:20 remaining in the quarter when Guinn made a clutch, sideline catch right in front of Godinez to keep the drive alive.  Minutes later, Kirchmeyer again hit Guinn on a 26 yard post for a score, as Fullerton went up 35-21.  The Hornets were taking advantage of the porous Mountie secondary, exploiting their one-on-one coverage. 

On the other hand, the Fullerton secondary was making big plays, although they were also giving up yardage.  SS Curtis, CB Byron Walker and S Cornell Norman all played solidly while CB Larry Collins was punishing ball-carriers with reckless abandon all over the field.  Yet the biggest secondary play of the night was made by FS Robert Clark, who stripped RB Tavake on a flat pass with 6:10 left in the 3rd quarter.  Clark also recovered the fumble for the Hornets after Tavake had just punished a Hornet defender on the previous play.  The big play seemed to kill any momentum Mt. Sac had going to try to get back in the game.  Moments later, Kirchmeyer hit TE Jason Vandiver for a 12 yard touchdown as the Hornets went up by three touchdowns.

Clark's big play seemed to put Mt.SAC to sleep over the next quarter of play as Fullerton seemed headed towards a 42-21 victory.  Their lackluster play continued when Walker was open on a deep post play and tipped the ball into the hands of hustling CB Charles Dobbs as the ball was late and under thrown.  Dobbs made the play for an interception in the end zone.  Things continued to looked bleak for Mt. SAC and they inserted back-up QB Derek Devine for a spark. Suddenly, lighting struck for Mt. SAC and they came out of hibernation.

The 6-3, 210 pound lighnting rod wore #19 for Mt. SAC as Walker scored on a 52 yard pass from Devine, stiff-arming Fullerton's Walker and racing in for the score with 3:26 showing on the clock.  Next, Mt. Sac recovered a squib kick that rolled straight up the middle.  Seconds later, Walker made a clutch grab to the Fullerton 20 yard line.  It was truly a Herculean effort as Walker caught the ball at the "20" sign painted on the grass and dragged the Fullerton defenders 5+ yards out of bounds to stop the clock with 3:07 showing!  On the very next play, Walker caught a hitch, froze the CB covering on the play, sprinted towards the end zone and made FS Clark miss as he was coming over to make the play and within 26 seconds Mt. SAC had put 14 points on the board.

The score was now 42-35 and Mt. SAC again tried the squib kick up the middle.  After a mad scramble and a few prayers by the Hornet faithful, it was only fitting that WR Guinn came up with the loose ball for Fullerton.  "He was being a hero all game, so that play was just icing on the cake for our #19," Norman stated afterwards.  Regardless, the tussle was far from over.

With OL Rufus Ruiz urging on the Mt. SAC faithful over the P.A. system, the Mounties forced a 3 and 4 situation inside the Fullerton 40 yard line.  With a good line surge, the Mounties held as All-American K/P Sam Paulesco trotted onto the field to attempt a 47-yard filed goal and ice the game for Fullerton.  The field goal attempt was blocked by LB Chance Dunleavy with 1:52 showing on the clock as the Mounties faithful were now in a state of hysteria.

Mt. SAC tried their money screen play to Walker on first down, but Fullerton swarmed Walker for a minimal gain.  A false start forced a 2 and 15, but a face mask penalty by Fullerton made up for the mishap and the Mounties had a first down on their own 38.  On 2 and 10 with :56 seconds remaining, CB Walker made a big play downfield, as WR Shane Martin had the ball jarred loose on the collision with Walker.  On 3rd down, Mt. SAC again went to the Walker middle screen, but the play was risky because the Mounties had no timeouts left.  Fullerton again snuffed the play out, but Walker atoned for the risky play by making a clutch 4th down catch to the Fullerton 35 with: 08 seconds remaining.  Mt. SAC raced up to the line as the clocked stopped to move the chains and spiked the ball for one last play.  With everyone on the sideline and stands knowing the Mounties were looking for Walker, Devine looked to hit Martin on a deep seam pass to complete the miraculous comeback.  It was not to be however, as the pass sailed out of the back of the end zone and Fullerton survived to play next week.

The shootout featured 1,066 yards of net offense, 534 from the Hornets and 532 from the Mounties.  The telling statistic was 3rd down conversions, as Fullerton was successful 50% of the time (8 of 16) while the Mounties were only successful 25% of the time (4 of 16).

For Mt. SAC, Justin Bowie hauled in 6 passes for 92 yards and both Demetrius Hughes and Martin contributed 2 catches each.  For Fullerton, Deonte Sharp caught 3 balls for 92 yards and Jason Vandiver and Roberts contributed 2 catches apiece.  On the ground, Hill carried the ball 19 times for 108 yards for the Mounties while the Hornets received 89 yards on 15 lugs from Domineck and 76 yards on 21 carries from Alfred Guidry.  In the air, Fullerton's Kirchmeyer was 16 of 27 for 391 yards while Ernst completed 18 of 44 passes for 243 yards with one pick for Mt. SAC.  In relief, Devine played well, completing 10 of 15 for 163 yards.

#19 on both teams had career games, as Guinn toasted the Mounties secondary with 8 receptions for 246 yards with two touchdowns.  Yet his biggest play was the recovery on the second on-sides kick.  Walker caught 14 clutch passes for 268 yards with three scores.  "Their #19 was a play-maker.  The guy just did not want to lose, but we made the necessary adjustments," Norman sighed afterwards. 


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