Cal State Fullerton has lost its share of games this year, in all kinds of ways.
The Titans have lost by huge margins in games they had little business playing (Louisiana State, Florida).
They have lost by a large margin in games they could have been expected to lose, but by fewer points (Hawaii, San Jose State).
And they have lost a close game that they might have won (Fresno State).
After a 22-14 loss to the University of the Pacific in front of a gathering of 3,114 Saturday in Santa Ana Stadium, add one more to the list: They lost one they shouldn't have.
"Should" is often a very subjective word. Not here. Cal State Fullerton, 5-6 overall and 4-3 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn., amassed 494 yards of total offense to Pacific's 189, made 27 first downs to Pacific's 12, and outdid the Tigers in every significant statistical category.
Unfortunately for the Titans, turnovers and penalties are also significant categories. Fullerton quarterback Ronnie Barber threw three interceptions, the Titans lost three fumbles and they were penalized a school-record-tying 16 times for 122 yards.
"It's very disappointing when you dominate a game like that and don't win," Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy said.
Pacific Coach Bob Cope saw it a bit differently.
"We really played better than the stats indicate," Cope said. "We kind of bent but didn't break."
Fullerton took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Barber's 12-yard touchdown pass to Todd White. But on Fullerton's next possession, Barber's pass was intercepted by Mark Roberts, giving the Tigers the ball on the Titan 24-yard line. Six plays later, Jon Grim scored on a one-yard run. Mark Gran missed the point-after attempt, making the score, 7-6.
Pacific (4-6, 3-3) didn't score again until the second quarter, shortly after Greg Koperek intercepted another pass by Barber at the Titan 27-yard line and returned the ball to the six. After a two-point conversion attempt failed, Pacific led, 12-7.
Fullerton took a 14-12 lead--its last of the game--when Eric Franklin scored on a five-yard run, set up a few playes earlier by Michael Moore's 75-yard kickoff return.
Another Pacific touchdown made it 19-14. By the end of the first half, Fullerton's Stan Lambert had missed a 26-yard field-goal attempt, and another Titan drive was stifled when Franklin fumbled at the Titan 47.
The loss to Fresno last week took the Titans out of contention for a tie for the PCAA title.
Fullerton's nonconference meeting with against Montana next week seemed somewhat meaningless earlier this week. Now the Titans need it to salvage a .500 season.