Fullerton College let Saturday night’s season-opening game against Rancho Santiago slip through its hands--literally.
The Hornets, who over the years have earned a reputation as one of community college’s most fundamentally sound teams, played an uncharacteristicly sloppy game and turned the ball over seven times, six on fumbles.
What resulted was an upset of major proportions as the unranked Dons defeated the Hornets, the Southland’s second-ranked team, 27-24, before 4,000 in Santa Ana Stadium.
It’s always nice to beat your rival, but this win was special for Rancho Santiago and its fourth-year coach, Dave Ogas. Ogas was winless in his previous three games against Hal Sherbeck’s Hornets, and Rancho Santiago had lost its last four and 18 of its last 22 meetings against the Hornets, who still lead the series, 30-28-4.
But Rancho Santiago was able to build a 24-3 lead and then hold off a furious rally in the 62nd renewal of the nation’s oldest community college rivalry.
“No doubt about it, this is my greatest win,” said Ogas, who played for Fullerton’s national championship team 20 years ago. “The preparation of our coaching staff is what won this game. They went over Fullerton’s films from the last three years, and nothing, not one thing they did tonight, caught us by surprise.”
Fullerton gave an early indication of what was to come when John Green fumbled the opening kickoff, his first of four fumbles and Fullerton’s first of six. Rancho Santiago did not capitalize on that turnover, but, in the second half, did.
Trailing 3-0, the Dons took the lead for good at 12:48 of the second quarter when Silvio Delligatta hit Ed Nasser with a seven-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-3. Rancho Santiago started the scoring drive at the Hornet 28-yard line after Wellington Bennett recovered a Green fumble.
Rancho Santiago forced Fullerton to punt after four plays on the ensuing series and promptly drove 46 yards on 11 plays to make it 14-3. Larry Brown capped the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run.
An interception by Ron Mason of a Mike Zorn pass set up Rancho Santiago’s final points of the first half, a 39-yard field goal by Darryl Willis.
Fullerton 3 0 6 15 -- 24 Rancho Santiago 0 17 7 3 -- 27 Ful--FG Chiebowski 26
RS--Nasser 7 pass from Delligatta (Willis kick)
RS--Brown 8 run (Willis kick)
RS--FG Willis 39
RS--Nasser 13 pass from Delligatta (Willis kick)
Ful--Hankins 7 pass from Zorn (kick failed)
RS--FG Willis 40
Ful--Newkirk 9 run (Grimm pass from Zorn)
Ful--Green 13 run (Chiebowski kick)
Golden West 7, Orange Coast 7--The Pirates were charitable, losing four fumbles including two inside the Golden West 20-yard line to give away a chance at a win. After Orange Coast scored on a seven-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ken Laszlo. The Rustler tied the score with 7:56 to play on a 1-yard run by running back Dave Swigart.
Golden West 0 0 0 7 -- 7 Orange Coast 7 0 0 0 -- 7 OCC--Laszlo 3 run (Romann kick)
GW--Swigart 1 run (Powers kick)
Saddleback 48, El Camino 14--The Gauchos scored 41 points in the first half--one point short of the school record set in 1969--to easily defeat the Warriors at Saddleback. Quarterback Jason Schmid completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards. He completed 13 of his first 14 attempts. The win was Saddleback’s 44th consecutive at home.
El Camino 6 0 8 0 -- 14 Saddleback 10 31 7 0 -- 48 Sad--Horgan 10 pass from Schmid (Rutkowski kick)
Sad--FG Rutkowski 29
EC--Barber 16 run (kick failed)
Sad--Bielman 45 pass from Schmid (Rutkowski kick)
Sad--Jungkeit 4 run (Rutkowski kick)
Sad--FG Rutkowski 41
Sad--Mersola 12 run (Rutkowski kick)
Sad--Schmid 9 run (Williams kick)
Sad--Jungkeit 15 pass from Schmid (Rutkowski kick)
EC--Madison 13 pass from Barber (Antencio pass from Barber)