SAN DIEGO COLLEGE NOTEBOOK : When the Lights Went Out, the Party Started for USD

College football openers. Pageantry. Thrill. Glitter. Lights.

What's that? Who turned out the lights?

That's what more than 4,500 fans, players and coaches at the University of San Diego's Torero Stadium were asking themselves before USD's opener Saturday night against Occidental.

Approximately 7 p.m., 30 minutes before the scheduled start, the stadium lighting system mysteriously shut down, prompting a number of questions and good-natured comments.

Most of the questions became moot when officials were able to get the lights back on at 7:30. Since there was enough sunlight remaining for the teams to continue warming up, the game was delayed only about 15 minutes.

Good thing for USD, which defeated Occidental for the first time since 1981 and the first time in Coach Brian Fogarty's eight years at USD.

The final score was 20-12, not 20-14 as the stadium scoreboard read. It seems USD was having trouble with its scoreboard, too, and the thing added two points for Occidental early in the third quarter.

Jackson Muecke, USD's stadium announcer, was in prime form making light of the lights.

"Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen," Jackson bellowed over the public address system. "The scoreboard should read USD 13, Occidental 12 (not 13-14). It seems we're experiencing financial . . . er . . . technical difficulties beyond our control tonight. If you don't like it, donate more money to the USD football program."

That statement brings up an interesting note.

On July 10, USD held a benefit to help raise $125,000 for a new lighting system to be installed before the 1991 season. It was called, "Night under the lights?"

USD is hoping to quadruple the current lighting system from 18 to 72 fixtures at 1,500 watts each.

This was not the first time that the lights have caused problems, nor the first time a USD home opener was delayed because of technical problems.

In 1986, the lights went out for about 15 minutes during a game with Redlands. The Toreros were playing poorly before the second-quarter blackout. When play resumed, USD rallied for three touchdowns and a 21-3 victory.

In 1983, the automatic sprinkler system came on early in the fourth quarter in USD's opener with Redlands. When the problem was finally corrected, USD scored the decisive touchdown six plays later in a 14-13 victory. It was Fogarty's first game at USD.

In his college debut for Occidental, Brian Madlangbayan, who led El Camino High to the San Diego Section 2-A championship last year, rushed for 157 yards.

Said Fogarty, when asked if he tried to recruit Madlangbayan, "We talked to him. He just wouldn't give us the time of day."

Operations aside, the rest of the week went pretty well for USD's athletic teams.

Men's soccer is 3-0-2 after ties with highly regarded UCLA and Nevada-Las Vegas and a 4-2 victory over South Alabama in the championship of the UNLV Invitational. Junior Paul Gelvezon, a graduate of Mesa College and Mira Mesa High who is just 5-feet-3 and 145 pounds, is tied for sixth in the NCAA with 13 points (five goals, three assists). The Toreros have another tough test against Washington at 7:30 Friday at home.

Women's volleyball, just 2-26 last year, already has doubled its victories this season under new Coach Sue Hegerle Snyder, who was an assistant for four years at San Diego State before coming to USD. The Toreras (4-5) won the consolation championship in the ASICS tournament at SDSU after finishing second in a tournament at Fresno State.

In cross-country, Rachel Kassolis finished third in the Loyola Marymount Lion Invitational Saturday, covering the 5,000-meter course in 19 minutes, 55 seconds. It was her first college competition after sitting out last year with an injury. The men's and women's teams also finished third.

A number of U.S. International teams are experiencing early success this year after dismal seasons in 1989.

Men's soccer (3-17 in 1989 with one forfeit victory) has matched last year's on-field victory total in posting a 2-0 record under new Coach Ralf Wilhelms, a former San Diego Socker. Forward Noel Pekel scored the winning goal with eight minutes left in a 2-1 victory against Grand Canyon. Five days later, Pekel pulled the same trick with two minutes left in overtime to defeat Cal Baptist, 3-2.

Women's soccer is off to a 2-0 start after finishing 5-13 last year.

Women's volleyball (4-17 in 1989) is off to a 3-5 start. In the ASICS tournament, junior April Devine served a school-record 11 aces in a five-game upset of Cal State Fullerton.

Mike Gearhardt of UC San Diego was named the most valuable player in the Azusa Pacific men's soccer tournament, which UCSD (4-1) won. Gearhardt scored both goals in the 2-0 championship victory over Azusa Pacific.

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