Palomar Clinches Mission-American

Tyler Lorenzen passed for 185 yards and rushed for 119 yards, leading Palomar to a 41-17 win over host Long Beach, capping a most improbable playoff run with a Mission Conference American Division championship.

Lorenzen led a Comet attack that amassed nearly 500 yards of offense as Palomar defeated the two-time defending division champions to clinch a playoff berth.

Just two weeks ago, such a scenario seemed hard to imagine for Palomar, which trailed both Fullerton and Mt. San Antonio by a full game with just two games left on the schedule.  Moreover, the Comets, by losing to Fullerton in week 7, 41-38, would lose any tie-breaker to the Hornets.

But after a 42-7 win over Mt. SAC last week, coupled with Fullerton's 24-20 loss to Riverside, the Comets had hope.  And when Mt. SAC topped Fullerton, 24-19, Saturday afternoon, the door was open for Palomar to win the division and claim the playoff berth with a win at Long Beach in the evening.

Lorenzen made sure that would happen.  The 6-5 lefty completed 12 of 18 passes, one of which went to Tobias Shanks for the go-ahead touchdown.  And he also rushed for a game-high 119 yards, including a 65-yard scramble that got the scoring started for the Comets.

Palomar took the opening kickoff, and three plays later Lorenzen went back to pass.  Finding no receiver open, and feeling the pass rush, pulled the ball down and ran.  By the time he was finished running, he had covered 65 yards and scored the game's first touchdown, giving the Comets a 7-0 lead 1:58 into the game.

Long Beach answered back with an 11-play, 72-yard drive to tie the score, with quarterback Andrew DeFelice carrying the ball in from 2 yards out to make it 7-7.  But Palomar kept on scoring, and Long Beach did not. 

Palomar went back in front on its next drive, moving into Viking territory on a 42-yard pass from Lorenzen to Shanks.  That same duo hooked up a few moments later for a 13-yard touchdown pass that put the Comets ahead, 14-7. 

After a Long Beach punt, Palomar drove to the Long Beach 25 on its next drive but Alex Mugica's 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.  Two plays later, however, Palomar got the ball back when Michael Wright intercepted a DeFelice pass and returned it to the Viking 43.  And this time the Comets cashed in the opportunity, increasing the lead to 20-7 on Adrian Allen's 4-yard touchdown run.

Long Beach drew a little closer when Matt Fitts scored on a 22-yard screen pass, reaching the ball across the goal line to cap a 7-play drive and close the margin to 20-14.  And moments later the Viking defense forced a Palomar punt – helped greatly by a bad snap that resulted in a 22-yard loss for the Comets – and Long Beach had the ball trailing by just 6 with nearly four minutes left in the half.

But on the very next play, Troy Guthrie lost the ball, and Palomar's Lawrence Hunt recovered the fumble at the Long Beach 19.  Three plays later, Diondre Grigsby scored from 5 yards out to push Palomar's lead to 27-14 at halftime.

Long Beach took the kickoff to begin the second half, and put together a 14-play drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal by Froylan Sanchez.  Relying mostly on the rushing of Ajai Williams, the Vikings covered 50 yards but also chewed up over 7 minutes off the clock.  The good field goal made it 27-17 midway through the third quarter.  And when the Comets finally did get the ball, the Long Beach defense again forced a punt, giving the Viking offense the ball at its own 40.

Just as after the first punt, on the very next play there was a fumble and Palomar again got the ball.  This time it was Williams who lost the ball, stripped by safety Derrick McMahen, and Charles Parker who recovered for the Comets at the Long Beach 45.

The Comets then put together an 8-play drive to extend the lead to 34-17.  The most memorable of those plays was a run by Grigsby, on which he bowled over a would-be tackler at about the 5 yard line.  But an instant later, Grigsby himself was on the receiving end of an absolutely devastating hit by Long Beach's Don Tupou.  Grigsby held onto the ball, however, and when Lorenzen scored from the 2 on the next play, Palomar had control of the game.

The Comets added another touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Grigsby scored from 1 yard out to cap a five-play drive.  The big play on that drive was a 34-yard pass from Lorenzen to Louis Hall that got the Comets to the Long Beach 10.  That made it 41-17, and basically clinched the win and the playoff berth for the Comets.

For Palomar, in addition to Lorenzen, there were several standouts.  Allen finished with 106 yards rushing on 19 carries while Grigsby had 78 yards on 11 carries and 2 touchdowns.  In all, the Comets amassed 296 yards rushing.  Combined with the Comets' 198 passing yards, that's 494 yards of total offense.  And Palomar had no turnovers.  On defense, McMahen was the most visible with a fumble forced and an interception. 

For Long Beach, DeFelice finished 10 of 19 passing for 111 yards and a TD, plus he also scored a touchdown rushing.  Williams led the Vikings with 109 yards on the ground on 19 carries. 

With the win, Palomar improves its record to 6-4 overall and heads to the National Bowl to face undefeated Saddleback (5 p.m.).

Long Beach, which won the Mission-American the last two years, finishes 3-7 overall and 0-5 in the division with the loss.

GAME SUMMARY

Palomar Comets 41 Long Beach Vikings 17

Saturday, November 11, 2006 – 5 pm – Veterans Memorial Stadium – Long Beach

Mission Conference – American Division

SCORING SUMMARY

1st Quarter:    

P – Lorenzen 65 yd run (Mugica kick) 13:02 (7-0)
LB – DeFelice 2 yd run (Sanchez kick) 7:37 (7-7)
P – Shanks 13 yd pass from Lorenzen (Mugica kick) 4:57 (14-7) 

2nd Quarter:   

P – Allen 4 yd run (pass failed – bad snap on kick) 9:10 (20-7)
LB – Fitts 22 yd pass from DeFelice (Sanchez kick) 6:02 (20-14)
P – Grigsby 5 yd run (Mugica kick) 2:02 (27-14) 

3rd Quarter:   

LB – FG Sanchez 32 yds 7:16 (27-17)
P – Lorenzen 2 yd run (Mugica kick) 0:30 (34-17) 

4th Quarter:

P – Grigsby 1 yd run (Mugica kick) 11:30 (41-17)

TEAM STATISTICS

First Downs:  Long Beach 17 (9 rush, 6 pass, 2 penalty), Palomar 22 (10 rush, 11 pass, 1 penalty)
Rushes-Yds:  Long Beach 34-142, Palomar 48-296
Passing Yds:  Long Beach 111, Palomar 198
Comp-Att-Int:  Long Beach 10-19-2, Palomar 13-19-0
Return Yds:  Long Beach 57, Palomar 78
Sacks-Yds:  Long Beach 0-0, Palomar 1-6
Fumbles-Lost:  Long Beach 2-2, Palomar 2-0
Penalties-Yds:  Long Beach 3-25, Palomar 12-105
Time of Possession:  Long Beach 27:01, Palomar 32:59

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing:  Long Beach 21-A.Williams 19-109, 26-Guthrie 9-33, 11-Su'a 2-7, 16-DeFelice 4-3; Palomar 4-Lorenzen 12-119, 46-Allen 19-106, 30-Grigsby 11-78, 8-Wanket 1-19, 40-Kodadek 1-3, team 2-(-24)
Passing:   Long Beach 16-DeFelice 10-19-2-111, 1 TD; Palomar 4-Lorenzen 12-18-0-185, 1 TD; 8-Wanket 1-1-0-13
Receiving:   Long Beach 9-Fitts 3-34, 80-Enman 3-22, 6-Jaso 2-48, 4-Holloway 1-5, 19-Munoz 1-2; Palomar 9-Shanks 3-76, 3-Fenton 3-31, 6-M.Parker 2-21, 18-Hall 1-34, 15-Hill 1-17, 21-Lagree 1-10, 84-Small 1-5, 30-Grigsby 1-4
Interceptions-Ret Yds:  Long Beach none; Palomar 7-Wright 1-0, 41-McMahen 1-33
Fumble Recoveries:  Long Beach none; Palomar 44-Hunt, 25-C.Parker
Sacks:  Long Beach none; Palomar 43-Hiatt ½, 93-Asaivo ½   
Punters:   Long Beach 48-Sanchez 3-36.3 avg; Palomar 1-Harry 2-40.5 avg
Kick Returns:  Long Beach 84-Thompson 2-42, 22-Thomas 2-15; Palomar 15-Hill 1-24, 6-M.Parker 1-15
Punt Returns:  Long Beach none; Palomar 15-Hill 1-6
Missed FG:  Long Beach none; Palomar 10-Mugica 42 yds (wide right)

Notes:  Clincher!  Palomar entered 5-4 overall but 3-1 in the Mission-American and this win clinches the division title.  The Comets entered ranked #14 in the South but they make the playoffs by virtue of winning the division.  Long Beach entered 3-6 overall and 0-4 in the division.  Palomar's 3rd and 4th TDs came after the fumble recoveries; McMahen forced the fumble that Parker recovered. 

 


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