Palomar College football team’s bid to upset the No. 1 team came up half of a game too short recently, losing 45 – 20.
Hanging tough in the first half against the Southern California National Division’s No. 1-ranked team, the Comets put on a nightmarish performance in the second half of the Oct. 26 home football game against Fullerton College at Wilson Stadium in Escondido.
Being behind 17 – 13 after two quarters, Palomar looked like an entirely different team by giving up three turnovers, attempting a failed fake punt and allowing one blocked punt, which combined, lead to 28 points for the Hornets.
“We felt pretty good about getting the ball to open the third quarter, but we weren’t able to get anything going and they scored 21 points in the third quarter,” Palomar Coach Joe Early said.
The Comets managed only one first down during their opening possession of the second half and that was it until the last seconds of the third quarter.
During that same series, Fullerton was able to block Palomar player Juan Soto’s punt, forcing it to only travel for a total of nine yards, giving the Hornets field position in Palomar territory at the 40-yard line.
Three plays and 48 seconds later, Fullerton’s Running Back Lavorrie Johnson broke out to the left side and ran for 40 yards for his eighth touchdown of the year.
After a failed fake punt attempt from Palomar on their next possession, Fullerton took over on the Comet’s 34-yard line.
Once again, three plays later and using only 48 seconds, Fullerton scored another touchdown when Jose Escobar connected with Eli Pleasant for the second time in the right side of the end zone for a touchdown, putting Fullerton on top 31 – 13.
During the next possession, Lamb fumbled the ball on the Palomar 42, which lead to yet another touchdown pass from Escobar as he hooked up with Alejando Marenco on a fourth and 1.
Escobar finished the day throwing for 221 yards and four touchdowns, and was sacked only once.
Toward the end of the third quarter, Palomar was able to settle down and put together a drive that started at their 24 yard line and continued into the fourth quarter.
However, after marching all the way down to the Fullerton 13-yard line, the Comets’ momentum was quickly stopped as Lamb’s pass was intercepted by the Hornet’s Austin Steele one yard deep into the end zone.
Forcing the Hornets’ to punt; Palomar’s Damon Nolan returned the punt for 62 yards to the 20-yard line of Fullerton. With the help of a face mask penalty against the Hornet’s, the Comet’s Aaron Mossbarger ran it in for a four-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 38 – 20.
Once again holding the Hornets’ offense and forcing them punt, Palomar’s offense took the field at their own 24. After picking up the first down, Lamb was once again picked off for his second interception.
This time though, Fullerton’s James Nora returned the interception 32 yards for the Hornet’s first interception for a touchdown of the year. After the extra point, the score became 45 – 20.
Fullerton College (7–0) came into Palomar as the only undefeated team left in the conference after coming off two close wins against Top 10 opponents in Riverside and Saddleback.
On the other hand, Palomar (2 – 5) had lost two in a row, but with a win would have put them at 2 – 1 in the conference with at least a share of second place, instead they fall to 1 – 2.
Besides keeping the game close for the first half, the highlight came when Palomar’s Earvin Simmons returned a kickoff of 90 yards down to the Hornets’ five-yard line, leading to a field goal, which brought the score to 17 -10 at the time.
“The kids are playing hard, but now we have to decide how to finish the season,” Early said. “We have a tough one up in Saddleback then play Santa Ana and Grossmont.”