Fullerton Nips Canyons

Kyle Olson threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Marquis Avery (PHOTO) as Fullerton rallied from an 18-point deficit in the final 12:37 to stun the host College of the Canyons Cougars, 32-31, Saturday night in Valencia. 

Olson finished with 306 yards passing, and Avery totaled 15 catches for 166 yards in the Hornets’ come-from-behind victory.

Canyons seemingly had the game in hand after a pair of third-quarter touchdowns by Fred Winborn gave the Cougars a 31-13 lead.  But the Hornets stunned the home crowd with a dramatic rally that included a successful onsides kick and a pair of fourth-down touchdown passes, including the 6-yard winning toss that came with 1:45 left in the game.

This one was a wild event from the very start, with Fullerton’s Matt Estrada returning the opening kickoff 92 yards to give the Hornets a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game.  Taking the kick at his own 8, Estrada faked a handoff to Brandon Edwards and continued up the left sideline untouched, racing into the end zone for the score. 

But Canyons answered back just over a minute later when Andrew Miramontes connected with Hayo Carpenter on a 54-yard touchdown pass to tie the game.  Carpenter took a short pass at his 40, broke a tackle, and outraced the Hornet secondary to the goal line to tie the score 7-7 just 1:27 into the game.

Then came an exchange of turnovers with Canyons’ Jonathan Hollins knocking the ball loose from Olson and Matt Brown recovering for the Cougars and then Fullerton’s Lee Aguirre intercepting a Miramontes pass fourteen seconds later.  That meant the game began with two touchdowns and two turnovers, all in the first 3:01 of play.

Things calmed down a bit after that, with neither team scoring or turning the ball over again until Canyons got a 31-yard field goal from Paul Weinstein to take a 10-7 lead with 3:51 left in the quarter.  COC had a short 38-yard drive after a 16-yard punt return by Raphael Reynolds.  But Fullerton answered back with a 44-yard field goal by Carlos Reyes after a spectacular catch by Avery on an Olson pass along the left sideline.  That play covered 41 yards and the field goal tied the game at 10 with 2:33 left in the first quarter.

Canyons took a 17-10 lead late in the half after a 3-play, 61-yard drive.  All of the yardage gained came on a pair of passes from Miramontes to Jovonne Augustus.  The 6-5 receiver, who is also a forward on the COC basketball team, leaped high into the air to make the first catch, a 17-yard reception.  Then he outraced the secondary down the right hash marks and hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass two plays later to put the Cougars ahead with 6:10 left in the first half.

The COC defense, which registered five sacks and did not allow a rushing first down in the first half, forced another Fullerton punt on the Hornets’ next possession.  But after Canyons was also unable to move the ball, a special teams mistake cost the Cougars again as a bad punt snap gave Fullerton excellent field position.  Punter Ken Shigley managed to pick up the rolling ball before Fullerton could recover it, but he was then tackled at his own 9-yard line.  Three plays later, Reyes booted a 27-yard field goal to make it 17-13 with 21 seconds left in the first half.

In the third quarter, Canyons seemed to take control of the game with a pair of touchdown runs by Winborn.  After Reynolds gave the Cougars excellent field position with a 43-yard return of the second half kickoff, it took Canyons just 5 plays to extend its lead with Winborn scoring from 18 yards out to make it 24-13.  Then, after Robbie Casselberry recovered a Fullerton fumble at the Hornet 42, it took the Cougars just four plays to score again with Winborn again carrying the ball over the goal line, this time from 5 yards out, to make it 31-13.

That lead seemed especially safe when, just over a minute later, Tyler Roby intercepted an Olson pass, giving the Cougars the ball at their own 27.  Even when Aguirre blocked a Cougar punt at the end of a brief COC drive, the Canyons defense again stood firm, turning Fullerton away with any points or even a single first down, stopping the Hornets on downs at the Cougar 19 with 2:46 left in the third quarter.  Canyons then drove into Fullerton territory as the quarter wound down before punting the ball back to Fullerton with 14:53 left in the game.

And the comeback seemed slow to start as the Hornets needed a 10-play, 88-yard drive to get their first touchdown of the second half.  A 19-yard run by Justin Guzman, the Hornets’ first rushing play of the game to gain more than 8 yards, got Fullerton to the Canyons 30.  But it still took seven more plays before Fullerton finally scored on a 4-yard pass from Olson to Avery.  Worse yet, Reyes’ extra point try went wide right, keeping it a 12-point game with 12:37 left.

But on the ensuing kickoff, Reyes more than atoned for the missed conversion.  Canyons prepared for the return but Reyes instead squibbed the ball off the tee and recovered the onsides kick at the 41, keeping the momentum with the Hornets. 

Still, the next drive came anything but quickly, with Fullerton needing 14 plays to cover the needed 59 yards to score again.  The Hornets faced a fourth down situation at one point, managed to draw a penalty on Canyons for having too many players on the field but then received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  That gave Fullerton a first down despite a 10-yard net loss.  Moments later Taiino Herrera of the Cougars seemed to cause Olson to fumble, but the play was ruled an incomplete pass. 

Later in the drive, Fullerton faced another fourth-down situation, but Andrew Herard plowed through the line for the first down at the Cougar 26.  Then a 16-yard pass from Olson to Avery got the Hornets a first-and-goal from the 10.  But three plays later, Fullerton again faced a fourth down situation, this time at the Canyons 6.  But Olson found Avery for the touchdown pass, cutting the Cougar lead to 31-26 with 8:52 left in the game.

This time, Canyons prepared for the onsides kick, which left return man Reynolds to fend for himself when Reyes kicked the ball deep.  He was pinned at the Cougar 13.  Canyons managed to get out to the COC 40 at one point, but a costly intentional grounding penalty forced another Cougar punt, giving Fullerton the ball at its own 25 with 6:15 left.

With over six minutes left, Fullerton had plenty of time to take the lead, and they embarked on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Olson’s third touchdown pass to Avery in the quarter.  A 23-yard Olson pass to Adam Hill got the Hornets into Cougar territory, and a 20-yard run by Herard got the ball to the 14.  But the Hornets soon faced another fourth down after Robert Archuleta stepped out of bounds after catching a short pass, making it fourth and 2 from the 6.

First, Canyons took a timeout.  Then Fullerton lined up to run the play only to take a timeout.  With just under two minutes left, both teams were clearly aware of the importance of the next play.  Finally, when play resumed, Olson rolled to his left in search of a receiver.  Just outside the hash marks, the southpaw stopped and fired a 6-yard touchdown pass to Avery, who found an open spot just across the goal line, to give Fullerton the 32-31 lead.

Still, the game was far from over.  With 1:45 left, COC had plenty of time to rally, especially with Fullerton clinging to such a small lead.  The Hornets elected to try for the 2-point conversion to extend the margin to 3 points.  The first try, a pass play to the right corner of the end zone, resulted in a pass interference penalty on Canyons.  The second try resulted in a holding penalty on Fullerton.  Prior to the third attempt, Fullerton drew another penalty, this time for a false start.  Finally, the Cougars stopped the conversion attempt when K.T. Thomas dragged down Olson from behind as he attempted to pass.  The ball fell incomplete, keeping the score 32-31.

But on the ensuing kickoff, the special teams nightmare for Canyons continued.  Reynolds took the kick along the left sideline, started up the field and was met by a wall of Hornets.  The ball popped free towards midfield, and Fullerton’s Dache Fance recovered at the Cougar 26, all but sealing the win for the Hornets.  COC ended up getting the ball back one final time at its own 20 with 5 seconds left, but the game ended after one more incomplete pass.

It was a wild game, and there were a lot of very impressive statistics for both teams.  Olson finished 30 of 47 passing for 306 yards and 3 TDs, compared to a very solid 19-of-31 for 212 yards and 2 TDs for COC’s Miramontes.  Avery led all receivers with 15 catches for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns, but both Augustus (7 catches, 88 yards) and Carpenter (5 catches, 105 yards) had strong games for Canyons.  And COC had a pair of rushers top the 100-yard mark:  Reynolds (15 carries for 137 yards) and Winborn (13 carries, 121 yards and 2 touchdowns).

Still, there were strong defensive performers on both teams as well.  Aguirre had two interceptions and a blocked punt for Fullerton.  But Hollins had a pair of sacks for Canyons, including one that forced a fumble.  And the Canyons defense held Fullerton to just 52 yards rushing on 37 carries for the night.

The difference for Fullerton was on special teams.  In addition to Estrada’s 92-yard kickoff return, the Hornets had two long kickoff returns by Brandon Edwards, both of which were finally stopped by saving tackles by kicker Paul Weinstein, and totaled nearly 300 yards in kick returns.  Canyons squibbed all their second half kickoffs to avoid more long returns.  Olson also averaged 41 yards per punt, while Canyons had a punt blocked.  Also, the onsides kick by Reyes kept the momentum on Fullerton’s side as the Hornets rallied in the final quarter.  And finally, the last Canyons fumble on the final kickoff sealed the win for Fullerton.

With the win, Fullerton improves to 2-0 entering its game next week at home against Santa Ana in its Mission Conference opener.  Meanwhile, Canyons begins WSC play at home next Saturday against Santa Barbara.

Fullerton Hornets 32
College of the Canyons 31

Saturday, September 8, 2007 – 7 pm – Cougar Stadium - Valencia

1st Quarter:    
F – Estrada 92 yd kickoff return (Reyes kick) 14:48 (7-0)
C – Carpenter 54 yd pass from Miramontes (Weinstein kick) 13:33 (7-7)
C – FG Weinstein 31 yds 3:51 (7-10)
F – FG Reyes 44 yds 2:33 (10-10)

2nd Quarter:   
C – Augustus 44 yd pass from Miramontes (Weinstein kick) 6:10 (10-17)
F – FG Reyes 27 yds 0:21 (13-17)

3rd Quarter:   
C – Winborn 18 yd run (Weinstein kick) 12:18 (13-24)
C – Winborn 5 yd run (Weinstein kick) 9:55 (13-31)

4th Quarter:
F – Avery 4 yd pass from Olson (kick wide right) 12:37 (19-31)
F – Avery 6 yd pass from Olson (Reyes kick) 8:52 (26-31)
F – Avery 6 yd pass from Olson (pass failed) 1:45 (32-31)

Team Statistics:
First Downs:  Canyons 20 (11 rush, 9 pass), Fullerton 20 (5 rush, 13 pass, 2 penalty)
Rushes-Yds:  Canyons 36-232, Fullerton 37-52
Passing Yds:  Canyons 224, Fullerton 317
Comp-Att-Int:  Canyons 20-33-2, Fullerton 31-49-2
Return Yds:  Canyons 117, Fullerton 306
Sacks-Yds:  Canyons 5-24, Fullerton 2-12
Fumbles-Lost:  Canyons 4-1, Fullerton 3-2
Penalties-Yds:  Canyons 11-86, Fullerton 13-106
Time of Possession:  Canyons 25:34, Fullerton 34:26

Individual Statistics:
Rushing:  Canyons 29-Reynolds 15-137, 10-Winborn 13-121, 6-Miramontes 6-6, 11-Civita 1-1, team 1-(-33); Fullerton 33-Guzman 7-38, 19-Herard 11-36, 24-Edwards 9-6, 5-Robinson 2-(-2),
10-Olson 2-(-6), 18-Fleming 4-(-18), team 2-(-2)
Passing:   Canyons 6-Miramontes 19-31-2-212, 2 TDs; 7-McClellan 1-2-0-12;
Fullerton 10-Olson 30-47-2-306, 3 TDs; 18-Fleming 1-2-0-11
Receiving:   Canyons 1-Augustus 7-88, 9-Carpenter 5-105, 19-A.Jones 3-24, 10-Winborn 2-2,
5-Austin 1-12, 29-Reynolds 1-0, 25-Leacock 1-(-7); Fullerton 6-Avery 15-166, 13-Chambers 6-56,
8-Archuleta 5-28, 87-Smolinski 2-4, 11-Downs 1-30, 20-Hill 1-23, 16-Bitar 1-10
Interceptions-Ret Yds:  Canyons 4-Roby 1-6, 27-Quals 1-0; Fullerton 15-Aguirre 2-25
Fumble Recoveries:  Canyons 22-Casselberry, 42-Brown; Fullerton 3-Fance
Sacks:  Canyons 92-Hollins 2, 2-Thomas, 8-Herrera, 42-Brown 1/2, 55-Staley 1/2;
Fullerton 58-Atherton, 99-McCoy 
Punters:   Canyons 30-Shigley 5-32.0 avg + 1 blk; Fullerton 10-Olson 5-42.0 avg
Kick Returns:  Canyons 29-Reynolds 4-89, 9-Carpenter 1-10;
Fullerton 24-Edwards 5-171, 21-Estrada 1-92
Punt Returns:  Canyons 9-Carpenter 2-2, 29-Reynolds 1-20;
Fullerton 15-Aguirre 1-17, 6-Avery 1-1

Notes:  Both teams entered 1-0.  Fullerton was ranked #16 in the nation by JC Grid-Wire; Canyons was ranked #20.  What a comeback for Fullerton!  A key play was an onsides kick after Avery’s 1st TD, which kicker Reyes recovered.  Avery’s other two TDs came on 4th-down plays.  Aguirre blocked the punt for Fullerton but the Hornets failed to take advantage of that opportunity, turning the ball over on downs three plays later.  COC’s bad punt snap set up Fullerton’s 2nd FG.  A Hollins sack caused the fumble that Brown recovered.  Fance recovered a Reynolds fumble on the kickoff return after Fullerton’s last TD.  This was the 1st-ever meeting between these two teams.

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