The top two community college running backs in the nation met at Orange Coast College Saturday night, but for three quarters the defenses dominated play.
Fullerton’s offense finally took control in the fourth quarter and led the Hornets to a 34-17 victory over Golden West in front of about 2,700 in a Mission Conference football game.
Blaise Bryant of Golden West had 829 yards going into the game to lead the nation, but Fullerton’s front line held Bryant to 56 yards in 20 carries. Bryant’s longest run of the game was 12 yards, which came well after the outcome had been decided.
Jeff Andrews of Fullerton, who was second in the nation in rushing coming into the game with 721 yards, gained 194 yards and scored a touchdown in 26 carries to pass Bryant, 915 yards to 877.
Golden West trailed, 10-7, at halftime and fell behind, 17-7, after Tim Imperiali returned the opening kickoff of the second half 96 yards for a touchdown. Fullerton (6-0 overall, 5-0 in conference play) is the fourth-ranked team in the nation in the J.C. Grid-Wire poll.
Golden West (3-2-1, 2-2-1) came back on a 20-yard scoring pass from Joe Napoli to Mike Crowley with 7:34 left in the third quarter. It was the first catch for Crowley since the first game of the season. He broke a finger on his right hand in practice the following week and missed five weeks. Crowley had 4 catches for 68 yards.
Golden West missed a chance to go ahead late in the third quarter when normally sure-handed tight end Dan Westmoreland dropped a pass in the end zone. Golden West had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by K.C. Satterthwaite on the final play of the quarter, which tied the score at 17-17.
But the fourth quarter was all Fullerton’s. Imperiali returned the kickoff after the tying field goal 37 yards to midfield.
From there, Andrews, a freshman out of Diamond Bar High School, had runs of 4, 4 and 17 yards to get the ball to the 25.
On third and 10, Fullerton quarterback Victor Williams completed a 23-yard pass to Imperiali to set up the go-ahead score. Andrews dove over the middle from the 2 and the Hornetsled, 24-17, with 12:31 left.
Golden West was forced to punt and Fullerton then drove for a 32-yard field goal by Kirk Hainline. He also had a 47-yard field goal in the first half and 4 extra points in the game.
Golden West’s last chance came after defensive back Kurt Szuba intercepted at the Fullerton 34 with 6:24 left. But Ed Bricker, who replaced starter Joe Napoli, threw three consecutive incomplete passes and then was intercepted by Orlando Robbins at the Fullerton 26.
The Hornets put together a final drive that ended with a 2-yard scoring pass from quarterback Victor Williams to Mike Thomas. Williams was 16 of 28 for 181 yards and 1 touchdown with an interception.
Fullerton’s first-half touchdown came on a 28-yard interception return by defensive back Craig Glatzhofer.