Fullerton Pushes Back Feisty Palomar

Jeff Fleming passed for 218 yards, and Sam Apraku scored three touchdowns as host Fullerton (7-1, 4-0) posted a workmanlike 36-23 win over visiting Palomar (6-3, 2-3) to stay atop the National Division's Southern Conference.

Fullerton led virtually all the way in this one, with Apraku's first touchdown near the end of the first quarter giving the Hornets a lead they would hold the rest of the way.  But the game was still in doubt into the final minutes as Palomar trailed by just six points and seemed to recover an onsides kick with just less than three minutes remaining.  But a penalty wiped out that onsides kick, and less than a minute later Apraku scored his third touchdown of the night to finally secure the win for Fullerton.

The first half was a contrast in efficiency, as each team had two prime scoring chances.  Fullerton took a 7-0 lead when Apraku scored from one yard out to cap a monstrous 15-play drive that chewed up 9:32 off the clock.  But Palomar responded with a long drive, thanks largely to a pair of strong runs by Orenzo Davis, reaching as far as the Hornet 4 yard line.  Then the drive stalled, and the Comets had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Collin Yost that cut the lead to 7-3.

Then after a Fullerton punt, Palomar again drove into Hornet territory, eventually reaching the 7.  Again, the drive stalled, and Yost again came on the attempt a field goal.  This time, however, the kick was low, and Fullerton's Armando Villa swatted the ball away.  Then just over two minutes later, Palomar was again driving, having moved into Comet territory on 32-yard pass from Bennett to Jeremy LaFrance.  This time Fleming scored on a 1-yard run, pushing the Fullerton lead to 14-3 

When the third quarter began, however, it was Fullerton who came away empty after a long drive and Palomar who capitalized on an opportunity with a touchdown.  The Hornets took the third quarter kickoff and drove to the Comet 19, but then had to settle for a field goal attempt.  DeJon Miller's kick, however, was low and into the line.  Then Palomar got a big play when Matt Christian threw to Keith Duhart long over the middle for a 56-yard gain to the Fullerton 10.  Two plays later, Christian threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Martavious Lee to cut the Hornet lead to 14-10.

Fullerton got two points to push the lead to 16-10 on a safety late in the third quarter.  That sequence began when punter Sean Wren pinned the Comets deep, rolling a punt dead at the Palomar 2.  Then the Hornet defense forced a punting situation.  But the snap on the punt play sailed high over the head of Briton Forester for the safety.

The fourth quarter featured both teams scoring regularly, but since Fullerton not only already had the lead but also scored first, that allowed the Hornets to hold on for the win.  A 32-yard run by Kevin Robinson set up Apraku's second touchdown, a 4-yard run with 12:02 left that made it 22-10.  Palomar answered back with a 10-play drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Christian to Paul Moore with 8:09 left that made it 22-17.  But LaFrance returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards - and Fullerton got an extra 15 yards added on for a late hit - getting the ball to the Palomar 22.  Two plays later, Fleming threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dameron Fooks to make it 29-17 with 6:58 left.  However, Palomar answered that score when Lee caught his second touchdown pass of the game, a 2-yarder from Christian, with 2:59 left to make it 29-23.

Then came the onsides kick.  As the ball descended, Fullerton's Darryl Shine was poised to make the catch.  But just as the ball arrived, so did Palomar's Michael Reid, and Shine had no chance to hold on.  Palomar's Tyler Lavea and Loa Madon fought for the ball, with Lavea appearing to come up with it.  Some 30 yards down the field, however, there was a penalty flag; Palomar was flagged for not having enough players on the short field side of the ball prior to the kick.  And on the re-kick, Shine easily made the catch, giving Fullerton possession.

Two plays later, Apraku put the game out of reach with a 28-yard touchdown run to make it 36-23 with 2:05 left.  And then when Palomar got the ball back, Villa sacked Christian on the next play from scrimmage, and Joel Bolomolo recovered for the Hornets to secure the win.

For Fullerton, Bennett completed 14 of 26 passes for 218 yards and a TD, while also rushing for 25 yards on 9 carries and scoring another TD.  Apraku had 77 yards and 3 scores on 11 carries.  And LaFrance not only led Hornet receivers with 4 catches for 87 yards, but also had the huge kickoff return.  Villa led the defense, blocking the field goal and forcing the fumble on the sack at the end of the game.

For Palomar, Christian was 16 of 32 passing for 179 yards and  3 TDs.  Davis led all rushers with 88 yards on 14 carries.  Lee had a huge night with 5 catches for 55 yards and  2 touchdowns, while Moore hauled in 5 passes for 47 yards and a score.

Fullerton Hornets 36
Palomar Comets 23

Saturday, November 1, 2008 - 6 pm - Fullerton Union HS
National Division - Southern Conference

1st Quarter:     
F - Apraku 1 yd run (Miller kick) 1:29 (7-0)

2nd Quarter:    
P - FG Yost 23 yds 11:56 (7-3)
F - Fleming 1 yd run (Miller kick) 0:13 (14-3)

3rd Quarter:     
P - Lee 11 yd pass from Christian (Yost kick) 7:59 (14-10)
F - Safety - punt snap out of end zone 2:06 (16-10)

4th Quarter:     
F - Apraku 2 yd run (pass failed) 12:02 (22-10)
P - Moore 19 yd pass from Christian (Yost kick) 8:09 (22-17)
F - Fooks 30 yd pass from Fleming (Miller kick) 6:58 (29-17)
P - Lee 2 yd pass from Christian (kick failed - dropped snap) 2:59 (29-23)
F - Apraku 28 yd run (Miller kick) 2:05 (36-23)

Team Statistics:

First Downs:  Fullerton 21 (5 rush, 10 pass, 6 penalty), Palomar 20 (13 rush, 6 pass, 1 penalty)
Rushes-Yds:  Fullerton 37-161, Palomar 41-162
Passing Yds:  Fullerton 218, Palomar 179
Comp-Att-Int:  Fullerton 14-26-1, Paloomar 16-32-0
Return Yds:  Fullerton 117, Palomar 81
Sacks-Yds:  Fullerton 2-20, Palomar 0-0
Fumbles-Lost:  Fullerton 4-0, Palomar 1-1
Penalties-Yds:  Fullerton 9-68, Palomar 14-112
Time of Possession:  Fullerton 32:51, Palomar 27:09

Individual Statistics:

Rushing:  Fullerton 2-Apraku 11-77, 24-Robinson 9-47, 8-Fleming 9-25, 36-Park 1-6, 39-Reid 3-5, 22-McCullough 4-4; Palomar 8-Davis 14-88, 26-Lavea 10-33, 29-Phillips 6-24, 5-Christian 9-17, 33-Leauma 1-3, team 1-(-3)
Passing:   Fullerton 8-Fleming 14-26-1-218, 1 TD; Palomar 5-Christian 16-32-0-179, 3 TDs
Receiving:   Fullerton 1-LaFrance 4-87, 3-Magee 3-40, 16-Fooks 2-36, 41-Shine 2-25, 88-Valencia 2-22, 24-Robinson 1-8; Palomar 7-Lee 5-55, 1-Moore 5-47, 15-Duhart 2-61, 6-Patterson 1-5, 84-Williams 1-5, 8-Davis 1-3, 26-Lavea 1-3
Interceptions-Ret Yds:  Fullerton none; Palomar 10-Madon 1-0
Fumble Rec:  Fullerton 93-Bonomolo
Sacks-Yds:  Fullerton 55-Villa 1-14, 45-Rogers 1-6; Fullerton none
Punters:   Fullerton 18-Wren 3-39.7 avg; Palomar 41-Forester 3-34.3 avg
Kick Returns:  Fullerton 41-Shine 3-42, 1-LaFrance 2-75; Palomar 26-Lavea 3-63, 8-Davis 1-17, 45-Fanene 1-1
Punt Returns:  Fullerton none; Palomar 83-Brewer 1-0
Missed FG:  Fullerton 5-Miller 36 yds (blocked); Palomar 14-Yost 30 yds (blocked)
Notes:  Fullerton entered 6-1 overall, 3-0 in conference, ranked #4 in South (COA) and #14 in the nation (JC Grid-Wire); Palomar entered 6-2 overall, 2-2 in conference and ranked #5 in South (COA).  Fullerton's 1st TD came after a 15-play drive that took 9:32.  Villa blocked the field goal attempt for Fullerton.  Miller's blocked field goal try was low and into the line.  After Palomar's last TD, the Comets tried an onsides kick which Lavea recovered, but an illegal formation penalty negated the play.  On the re-kick, Shine recovered for Fullerton.  On Palomar's last possession, Villa sacked Christian, causing the fumble that Bonomolo recovered. SIDENOTE - Thanks to Fullerton College for being great hosts for the JCFootball.com / JC Grid-Wire gang.

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