Fullerton Puts Up a Battle but Loses to Fresno, 30-20

Times Staff Writer

The Titans of Cal State Fullerton--unhappy wanderers of college football--continued their 1986 Magic-Less Misery Tour Thursday night. In what was once scheduled to be their homecoming game, the Titans got another lesson in the hazards of the road.

Fresno State quarterback Kevin Sweeney became the third quarterback in NCAA Division I-A history to pass for more than 10,000 yards, and James Williams rushed for 119 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown with 3:51 to play, to lead the Bulldogs to a 30-20 Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. victory in front of 27,222 spectators in Bulldog Stadium.

Fullerton, despite being outgained by 171 yards, forced Fresno to score 10 points in the fourth quarter to get a victory that many thought would come easily. It was another moral victory for the Titans, but one that will show up as their eighth road loss in eight tries this season.

Sweeney, whose pursuit of Doug Flutie’s NCAA record of 10,579 yards has been slowed by tender shoulders, appeared quite healthy Thursday night. The son of Fresno Coach Jim Sweeney completed 13 of 20 passes for 189 yards to move within 463 yards of Flutie’s mark. He has 10,116 yards passing, and has three games to play.


Thanks largely to a defense that would bend almost to the breaking point before snapping back, Fullerton found itself in a 13-13 tie entering the fourth quarter and a 20-20 tie with 8:31 to play. The Titans may have been outgained, but they weren’t outplayed.

Len Strandley’s longest field goal of the season--a 42-yard line drive with the wind at his back--tied it, 13-13, with 17 seconds left in the third quarter. It was set up by two of the Titans’ long list of big defensive plays. Defensive tackle Ron McLean fought off a blocker to sack Sweeney for a 12-yard loss and force the Bulldogs to attempt a 35-yard field goal. James Howard blocked the kick and recovered for the Titans at their 25 yard line.

The Titans (2-8 overall, 1-4 in PCAA) then drove to the Fresno 25 to set up Strandley’s field goal. The momentum that came with it didn’t last long. Brock Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Fullerton 28. Five plays later, Anthony Mosley ran it in from one yard out to give Fresno a 20-13 lead with 13:58 to play.

The Titans came back with one of their best offensive drives of the season. They moved 67 yards in 11 plays with quarterback Ronnie Barber hitting fullback Mark Hood in the end zone for a 18-yard touchdown. Strandley’s conversion kick tied it, 20-20, at the 8:31 mark.

Fresno (7-1, 4-1) responded with an 11-play, 67-yard drive. A 23-yard run by Mosley, and 12-yard gain by Kelly Skipper led to Williams’ decisive one-yard scoring run.