Fullerton (4-0) Beats Orange Coast 28-14

Sept. 25 — Fullerton scored 21 unanswered points en route to a 28-14 Mission Conference win over Orange Coast, Saturday afternoon at Titan Stadium. The Hornets, ranked No. 6 in Southern California and No. 19 in the nation, improve to 4-0 on the season. The sophomores led the way in this one...

QB Justin Turner had his best day as a Hornet, completing 14 of 16 passes for 218 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions; RBs Manny Gutierrez (2 TDs, 62 yds) and Alfred Guidry (63 yds) led FC's running attack; and DT Gabe Long had another monster game with 8 tackles (3 for loss) and 2 QB sacks.

For the second straight week, it took a second-half comeback to lift the Hornets.

After an impressive opening drive - 8 plays, 87 yards, capped by a Gutierrez 3-yd TD run - FC began giving the ball away in the first two quarters.

Two fumbles and a roughing the punter penalty helped Orange Coast take a 14-7 into halftime.

OCC scored on a pair of 3-yard runs by Matt Downs and Robert Aoki. The Pirates owned the game clock (20 minutes to 10), and converted 6 of 10 third-downs.

OCC's average field-position in the second quarter was at its own 45 yard line.

But the Hornets regrouped in the locker room, and came out like gangbusters in the third quarter.

"We were embarrassed with how we played in the first half," said Long, who has recorded 17 tackles and 5 sacks in the last two games.

"We knew what needed to be done; coach (Casey) Mazzotta said we would not allow another touchdown in the second half. And we didn't."

FC wasted little time reclaiming the lead, scoring 14 points in a span of 25 seconds.

On the opening possession (set-up by freshman Mykeal Terry's 29-yard kickoff return), Guidry took a third-down toss 37 yards down the Pirate 20 yard line.

On the next third-down play, Turner ignored a timeout call from the sideline to beat a delay of game whistle, and connected with freshman WR Curtis Barfield over the middle. Barfield escaped the Pirate secondary and scooted in for a 15-yard score to tie the game at 14-14 (Mauricio Garcia kick).

After the ensuing kickoff and a first-down run, Pirate QB Kyle Basanez was pressured and picked-off by sophomore LB Dillon Bedard. Bedard gathered the ball and rumbled 40 yards for the score, giving FC a 21-14 lead.

Gutierrez added a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter to pad the lead.

The fourth quarter also was dominated by the Hornets. FC controlled the clock, 11:11 to 3:49.

OCC had just 2 drives in the fourth, for a total of 7 plays and 21 yards.

The Pirates had 6 drives in the second half and managed only 111 yards of offense. Their drives ended in an INT, 3 punts and 2 missed field goals.

"Every week, our defense has come out in the third quarter and set the tone," said FC associate head coach Tim Byrnes.

"Our offense has also responded, and its been our best quarter for some reason."

Turner said taking care of the ball was his No. 1 priority.

"I just wanted to shake-off those 8 interceptions I had," he said about the first 3 games.

"We had another great gameplan, and it was up to us to execute. We felt confident the second half would belong to us. Our line did a great job and our receivers really had some clutch receptions."

Byrnes said Turner's performance will hopefully give the team even more confidence heading into games against Mt. San Antonio and division rivals.

"That's the type of game we expect from Justin," Byrnes said.

"His only two incompletions were a dropped pass and a bad read. He had a great game and showed what he's capable of."

Turner connected with 8 different receivers. Six players had 2 catches to lead the team: Craig Scott (41 yds), Darnell Dodson (31), Gutierrez (29), Tim Weeks (26), Barfield (20), and Jason Vandiver (16).

NOTES: OCC had more first downs (22 to 14), more time of possession (33 min, to 27), and more offensive plays (72 to 52), but FC outgained the Pirates in total yards (366 to 314) ... Sophomore P David Kline's 34-yard punt in the fourth quarter pinned OCC at its own 1 yard line; the ball was downed by freshman safety Jelani Gamba ... Freshman safety Camron Carmona recorded his first INT of the season ... Freshman LB T.J. Tabatabai had a career-high 7 tackles ... Along with his INT returned for a TD, Bedard had 3 tackles and a sack ... Also recording sacks were Long, Joel Janke, J.T. Bashford, and Kenny Stiger.

UP NEXT: FC will play its only night game of the season, next Saturday against Mt. San Antonio in Walnut (6 pm).


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