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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Hornets secure first win at Sherbeck Field over the Vaqueros

Fullerton shuts down Santa Barbara City in the second half to start off their season at 1-0.
Cesar Garcia
Hornets sophomore quarterback Brandon Nunez dives into the end zone to earn his third rushing touchdown of the night at Fullerton College on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023.

The Hornets started the season off on the right foot on Saturday night, defeating the Vaqueros, 27-14. The Hornets were led by some strong defensive efforts, but most importantly a quick start that had them leading the entire way.

After the Fullerton defense forced a quick three and out to christen their brand new field, the offense came up huge in their opening possession.

Sophomore running back Michael “The Bowling Ball” Vakapuna takes a hand-off from Sophomore quarterback Brandon Nunez. Vakapuna ran the ball violently all night, rushing for 45 yards on 12 carries at home on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. (Cesar Garcia)

It took just three minutes for the Hornet offense to get on the scoreboard, as sophomore quarterback Brandon Nunez rushed up the gut for a 9-yard touchdown to put the Hornets up 7-0.

The fun did not stop there for the Hornets. On their very next offensive possession, Nunez led the squad on a 97-yard drive en route to his second rushing touchdown of the night. The PAT attempt was no good, making the score 13-0.

The Hornets’ defense came up huge forcing a fumble on the following possession, recovered by sophomore linebacker Chris Harm. It was a dream start for the home squad, nearly perfect. Once the offense came out onto the field again, there was a new man under center for the Hornets.

Sophomore quarterback Garrett Larson stepped in for the Hornets, but they were not able to capitalize on the turnover. This soon stalled out the Hornets’ offense even with Nunez back in the game, leading them to be held scoreless until nearly the end of the first half.

Head Coach Garrett Campbell said the decision was in the game plan all along as his staff wanted Larson to gain some experience. Freshman quarterback Nathan Kornely also subbed in for a drive. Campbell liked what he saw from both backups, but reiterated Nunez was the sure fire starting quarterback.

Campbell spoke to his team after their 27-14 win over Santa Barbara City College, congratulating them on their first victory playing on the new Hal Sherbeck Field on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. (Cesar Garcia)

The Vaqueros defense stepped up in a huge way, holding the Hornets scoreless for a quarter and a half while their offense was able to finally strike during the six minute mark of the second quarter with a bulldozing rushing touchdown from freshman Prince Borten.

There was seemingly a change in energy from both sides with the Vaqueros zapping all of the momentum from the home team, as the Hornet faithful in attendance went from cheering and celebrating to groaning and agitated. This was magnified after Nunez threw his first interception of the game in the second quarter.

Soon after, it took the Vaqueros just four plays to get into the end zone to take a 14-13 lead late in the second quarter thanks to another Boten rushing touchdown. It seemed like the Vaqueros offense that averaged 45.4 points last season was starting to come together.

Two plays into the Hornets’ next drive, Nunez’s pass attempt was intercepted by the Vaqueros defense yet again. The offense seemed in disarray, but it was the defense yet again getting a huge stop and forcing a bad punt to set the offense up in prime position to score.

Fullerton took full advantage of the great field position, scoring in just four plays with Nunez launching a 14-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Christian Stewart who came down with a spectacular catch. The Hornets took the momentum right back heading into the half.

Both offenses stalled out in the second half featuring a lot of penalties on both sides. Neither team truly capitalized on these mistakes, which looked like a product of solid defense and poorly executed offense.

Hornets sophomore Tadan Smith executes a pass breakup on fourth down to keep the Vaqueros from scoring at Fullerton College on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. (Cesar Garcia)

Nunez led the team down the field once again on another long drive securing the final touchdown of the game, you guessed it, via another rushing touchdown, this time from 8 yards out.

Nunez passed for 166 yards going 12-28 along with four total touchdowns and two interceptions. Nunez also led the team in rushing with 59 yards talk about putting the team on your back.

“I had some experience last year hoping that would be good enough to lead the team. There were obviously a few mistakes that I made,” Nunez said. “I will have to watch film on them to see what I could have done better and clean it up so we can have a flawless performance next week.”

Vaqueros freshman quarterback Will Doherty did not have the ideal start to a college debut, going just 10-31 for 174 passing yards along with no touchdowns or interceptions.

FC Sophomore defensive back Djuan Grant makes a nice open field tackle on SBCC freshman running back Jake Foye at Fullerton on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023 (Cesar Garcia)

On the defensive side for the Hornets, there were so many standouts, but the one who stood out the most was Harm recording 6 total tackles and recovering a fumble.

“It’s pretty cool to get the win, you see the amount of alumni out here today, I mean it’s history. You know maybe we will be back in 50 years with a state championship ring celebrating the newer stadium,” Harm said.

Quite the humble yet confident take from the sophomore linebacker, but the Hornets do seem to be on the right track for that state championship ring starting off 1-0.

The Hornets face their next test on the road over at College of the Canyons at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.

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About the Contributors
Quinn Cisneros
Quinn Cisneros, Sports Editor
Quinn Cisneros is a third semester Sports Desk Editor for The Hornet Newspaper.  He is a six-time award winning journalist, including a first place CMA Pinnacle award for Sports Multimedia Story and second place for Sports Investigative Story. His other awards are a Meritorious Award for Enterprise Story/Series for his involvement in a Title IX investigation and honorable mention for Best Game Story from JACC. As a contributor to Around the Hornet in Fall 2023, he received another honorable mention for Audio Podcast and in Spring 2024 as an editor of Around the Hornet, he received third place for Audio Podcast from JACC. His interest in journalism came from his passion of sports. He enjoys watching, playing, and writing about sports. Quinn's end goal in journalism is to become a sports analyst. When not writing he enjoys spending time with his dog.
Cesar Garcia
Cesar Garcia, Staff Photographer
Cesar Garcia, a mechanical design engineer and a photographer for The Hornet newspaper. He skillfully navigates the dual worlds of precision and creativity. In his engineering career, he excels in designing innovative solutions. As one of the newspaper's dedicated photographers, Cesar captures life's stories with a keen eye for detail and compelling narratives. Beyond his professional pursuits, he finds solace and joy amidst the electrifying atmosphere of live concerts, where he marvels at the engineering precision of music. Cesar's life forms a harmonious tapestry, blending technical prowess, artistic expression, a love for nature and the outdoors, and the exhilaration of live performances into a captivating and multifaceted narrative.

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