By Phil Thurman, Fullerton College Sports Information
After a 33-year wait, the Fullerton College Hornets are once again State Champions! Hosting American River College on Saturday, the Hornets held on to beat the Beavers 29-27 to win their first title since 1983.
In its 100-year anniversary, the Fullerton College Football Program adds the cherry on top winning their fourth state title and possibly a fourth national title.
The game began a little flat, and then ended with a bang making for a fantastic game between two worthy teams.
American River got on the board first at 11:52 in the first quarter on a low-riding 41-yard field goal by kicker Max O'Rourke. The kick was line-dive shot that would have made any baseball coach proud. It was also O'Rouke's longest field goal of the season.
In the second quarter, O'Rourke hurt the Hornets again hitting another field goal from 35-yards out at the 13:12 mark. This one was much more pretty to watch as it sailed through the uprights.
Down 6-0, the Hornet offense looked sleepy, until 12:01 in the second quarter when Jerome Gross caught a beautifully thrown pass from Jorday Hoy. After the successful PAT by Jonathan Aguilar, Fullerton had their first lead at 7-6.
With just over 4 minutes left in the half, FC struck again when running back Phillip Butler burst through the middle for an 11-yard score.
The Beavers closed out the first half on a 62-yard strike from QB Giffin Dahn to receiver Arthur Jackson. The Hornets held a narrow 14-13 lead by halftime, and ARC served notice that they were not going away without a fight.
In the third quarter Fullerton received some breathing room on a 25-yard interception return for six by Javon Burris, and then scored on a 30-yard run up the middle by Anthony Wood.
With a healthy 29-13 lead, Fullerton looked as if they had the game in the bag, until the Beaver offense got it going. With 13 second left in the third, Dahn ran the ball hitting the pylon for a touchdown from 6-yards out.
The FC offense sputtered in the fourth due to some excellent defense by American River. The Beavers put the ball in the end zone again with five minutes left on a 35-yard pass from Dahn to Jabarri Johnson putting the Beavers within two of FC.
Fullerton was unable to run out the clock giving ARC a chance to win the game with 1:42 left in regulation on their own 20-yard line. Dahn quickly went to work completing a 10-yard pass on the first play. Then he completed another for 11 yards for another first down. With thoughts of ARC kicker Max O'Rourke possibly hitting the game winner, the crowd of 3,500 was on their feet. It was first and 10 with the ball on the Beaver 41 when Dahn launched the ball into the air. Fullerton defensive back Taj Jones tracked the ball making an over the shoulder catch intercepting the ball on their own 10-yard line ending the Beaver threat.
The Hornets had the ball with 1:15 left in the game and took a couple of knees in victory formation earning their first state title since 1983.
In their 100-year history only two head coaches have won titles for Fullerton in legendary Hal Sherbeck and now Tim Byrnes. Go Hornets!
MVP OF THE GAME - Jordan Hoy (QB Fulleron College)
OFFENSIVE MVP - Griffin Dahn (QB American River College)
DEFENSIVE MVP - Tyler Stepney (Fullerton College)
FULLERTON COLLEGE FOOTBALL STATE/NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
1965 - Jr. Rose Bowl National Champions - W, 20-15 over Henderson, Texas at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA - Head Coach Hal Sherbeck
1967 - State & National Champions - W, 41-0 over American River College at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, CA - Head Coach Hal Sherbeck
1970 - State Runner-up - L, 24-21 to College of the Seqouias at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, CA - Head Coach Hal Sherbeck
1983 - State & National Champions - W, 28-7 over Taft College at Memorial Stadium in Bakersfield, CA - Head Coach Hal Sherbeck
1988 - State Runner-up - L, 30-24 to Bakersfield College at Memorial Stadium in Bakersfield, CA - Head Coach Hal Sherbeck
2013 - State Runner-up - L, 28-13 to Butte College at Cowan Sports Complex in Butte, CA - Head Coach Tim Byrnes
2016 - State Champions - W, 29-27 over American River College at Nathan Shapell Stadium in Yorba Linda, CA - Head Coach Tim Byrnes