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The Hornet

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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Hornets finish regular season undefeated

Head coach Tim Byrnes holds up the Key to the County trophy as the team poses behind him.  Photo credit: Mathew Flores.

The Fullerton College football team knocked off the Santa Ana College Dons in the annual Key to the County game. The Hornets extended their undefeated season with a 56-35 win.

The Hornets (10-0, 6-0) clinched the conference championship and will head into the state playoffs as the top ranked team in the South division. They will have the opportunity to host a playoff game next week.

The 91 combined points scored in the game are the most scored in the rivalry game, which broke the old record of 80.

Hornet quarterback, Jose Escobar, broke the school record for passing yards in a season. His 2,574 yards break the old record by 27 yards over Brian Bartczak in the 2001 season.

Coming into the year, the quarterback position appeared to be a question mark with the departure of Conor Bednarski.

“I play with a chip on my shoulder,” said Escobar. “I want to leave people with no reason to doubt me.”

Eli Pleasant tries to shake a Santa Ana defender in Saturday’s Key to the County Game. He caught eight passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Photo credit: Mathew Flores.

The game was all Hornets early on. They took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The scoring started when Escobar hit the game’s MVP, Eli Pleasant, with a 37-yard touchdown pass, on the First play of the Hornets’ drive after a fumble.

On the very next drive, the Dons fumbled again and sophomore safety, Alex Bernstein, picked up the ball and ran it back 60 yards for a touchdown. He also added another interception later in the game and three tackles in route to picking up Defensive Player of the Game honors.

“I thought the defense as a whole played really well today,” said Bernstein. “It was cool to be able to have the ball in my hands and make plays.”

Santa Ana running back Divonte Beale, who was named Offensive Player of the Game, answered back with a 4-yard rushing score in the second quarter. After Ryan Byrd extended the lead back to 14 points, Beale scored again, on a 27-yard pass to cut the deficit back down to seven.

With only two minutes remaining in the half, Escobar hit Pleasant again for a 14-yard score. Pleasant finished with 125 yards on eight catches and scored two touchdowns.

The Hornets pose with the Key to the County trophy. Photo credit: Mathew Flores.

The lead was expanded to 35-14 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Lavorrie Johnson, early in the second half. The Dons tried to claw back and did so on a 31-yard pass from Shane Truelove to Jordan Brown.

With the lead at 35-21, the Hornets rattled off three consecutive touchdowns to grow the lead to 56-21. Escobar hit Elijah Balavitch for his first touchdown of the year, on a 6-yard pass. On the next drive, Trashon Broughton intercepted a Truelove pass and returned it 60-yards for a score.

Escobar added a 31-yard touchdown to Ryan Longoria to cap off the Hornets’ scoring and extend the lead to 35 points. The Dons added two more touchdowns late to bring the score to the final.

“Anytime you can go 10-0 in a season, it is a great accomplishment,” said FC head coach, Tim Byrnes. “We are going to celebrate, but we got to get right back to it and we have a few more games to win.”

The Hornets will host College of the Canyons, next Saturday, at 1 p.m. That game will be the first round of the state playoffs. The Hornets are currently ranked second in the nation and have positioned themselves to make a run at the national championship with covincing wins from here on out.

“We are just worried about winning games,” Byrnes said. “We don’t think about the National Championship. It is going to be hard enough just to win the games we need to win, in order to win state. We can’t focus on trying to run up the score or anything like that.”

Bill Chambers next to the plaque he received at halftime, in honor of the new athletic training building. Photo credit: Mathew Flores.
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