Sophomore WR Darnell Dodson hauled-in a 19-yard scoring pass from sophomore QB Justin Turner to give FC a 16-12 lead with 4:54 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Then, freshman RB Sheldon Reid had TD runs of 2 and 10 yards in the 4th quarter to seal the victory.
The Hornet defense (5 sacks) did its share once again, allowing just 10 points and holding Palomar to 286 total yards on 64 plays.
In the 2nd quarter, sophomore DT Gabe Long (9 tackles, 3 sacks) sacked Comet QB Tony Paoli in the endzone, knocking the ball lose for a safety.
Then, sophomore CB Steven Randolph intercepted Paoli, and his 79-yard TD return gave FC a 9-3 lead heading into halftime.
The Hornet offense got things rolling in the second half.
Turner and freshman QB Casey Whieldon combined for 7-of 10 passing for 89 yards, and the running game compiled 126 yards on 44 carries — enough to keep the chains moving and win the field-position battle.
Sophomore RB Alfred Guidry ran 20 times for 59 tough yards, and Reid had a career-high 12 carries for 51 yards to go with a pair of TDs.
"The defense gave us another big spark, what a great job," said FC associate head coach Tim Byrnes.
"They kept us in the ball game until our offense finally got it going. We came up with some big passing plays and started to put some drives together."
Freshman P David Kline had another solid effort, punting 3 times for a 43.7-yard average, while the punt coverage unit did not allow any returns.
Palomar took a 12-9 lead with 10:15 to play in the 3rd quarter on a Dwayne Corbitt 1-yard run.
But FC regained the lead for good with the Turner-to-Dodson pass play - a fade pattern to the corner of the endzone - that capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive (5 min, 21 sec). Dodson led the team with 4 receptions for 64 yards.
Both of Reid's 4th-quarter touchdowns were set up after Palomar miscues. Paoli fumbled a hand-off exchange, giving FC the ball at the Comet 16 yard line. Five plays later, Reid found the endzone.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Hornet S Darryl Gober knocked the ball loose from Comet KR Ronald Steele; freshman S Chris Bibolet recovered the ball at the 21 yard line, and 2 plays later, Reid bolted for a 10-yard score.
Palomar dominated the clock in the 1st quarter, using 12 of the 15 minutes. The Comets ran 21 plays for 103 yards, but missed a 45-yard FG attempt and came up empty on the scoreboard.
Over the final three quarters, Palomar was held to 183 total yards on 43 plays.
"We've been talking about maximum effort," said FC defensive coordinator Casey Mazzotta.
"We had a great week of practice, and our kids really prepared hard to earn this win. It's a huge win for our program."
Other Hornet defensive leaders included: freshman S Camron Carmona (9 tackles, 2 pass breakups), freshman LB Dillon Bedard (9 tackles), sophomore S Jelani Gamba (7 tackles), sophomore DT Johnny O'Quinn (5 tackles), and freshman S Darryl Gober (4 tackles, forced fumble).
NOTES: The Hornets should crack the Top 25 national rankings this week ...
Selected game captians were DT Gabe Long, DT Johnny O'quinn, LB Joel Ruvalcaba,
CB Steven Randolph (defense); and TE Jason Vandiver, FB Will Otto, Nick Silva
(offense) ... FC returns home to Titan Stadium next Saturday for a 1 p.m. game
against Orange Coast.