Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Hornets overcome bumpy start to topple Ventura

Friday night at Shapell Stadium in Yorba Linda the Fullerton Hornets football season kicked off. The Hornets took on the visiting Ventura Pirates.

It wasn’t the cleanest start, but the Hornets finished strong, defeating the Ventura Pirates 29-10.

Early on it was evident Fullerton was playing their first game of the season. Both offenses looked out of sync early on. The Pirates forced two Hornet fumbles and Ventura’s Chris Marshall caught the Hornet special teams flat footed when he returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown with 10:36 left in the first quarter.

Going into the second quarter it looked like the Hornets would be in for a long night.

Defensive Coordinator Brian Crooks got his group to refocus after the punt return.

“That first punt return was just the speed of college football. I told my guys that we can’t take a play off. They were going kind of slow and feeling it out a little bit. After that they realized they needed to do everything full speed”, Crooks explained.

The Hornet defense started shifting the momentum early in the second. With 13:52 left in the second quarter, the Hornets held the Pirates to a 37 yard field goal. The defense would not relinquish another point the rest of the night.

Crooks talked about the key to the defenses success.

“We blitzed a lot, but our three and four man fronts got good pressure too. We wanted to stop the quick pass. Our goal is always to get the offense back on the field.”

Following their defenses lead, the Hornets offense began to show signs of life midway through the second quarter. Freshman quarterback Joey Verhaegh started to find a bit of rhythm leading the Hornet offense on a 7 play 30 yard drive, capped off by a 2 yard touchdown run by Eugene Baker to put them on the scoreboard with just under four minutes to play in the half.

Hornets defensive end Dorian Watters really gave the team a lift with back to back sacks, forcing the Pirates to punt with just over six minutes to go in the third quarter. The momentum carried over to the offense and Verheagh took over.

Watters thinks it was a little bit of strategy and a lot of energy.

“I wanted to beat him up a lot early and let him get tired. He was a big guy so I knew he would get tired eventually. Then I could just bate him, let him think I’m going inside and then use my speed to go outside. It’s a lot of energy built up, I haven’t played in two years so I had to let it out”, Watters said.

Verhaegh really hit his stride midway through the third quarter. The freshman quarterback led the Hornets on a seven play 80 yard drive and finished it off with a 14 yard pass caught by Ryan Markush. The extra point try was blocked by the Pirates, but after the ball was bobbled around in a scrum, Austin Steele wound up with the ball and walked into the end zone to complete a bizarre unintentional two point conversion. Hornets led 15-10 and never looked back.

Verheagh finished strong, totaling 240 yards passing with one touchdown and went on to lead his offense on two more successful 80 yard drives. Khalill Wilson ran the ball strong and helped wear down the Pirate defense late in the game. Wilson finished with 100 yards and one touchdown.

Having trouble moving the ball, the Pirates offense went to a quarterback by committee system to shake things up and get something going. Starting quarterback Nick Duckworth, who finished with 95 yards passing and 2 interceptions, gave way to Jalen Brady and Marc Evans. The quarterback rotation did little to penetrate the Hornet defense, which allowed only 158 total yards on the evening.

Defensive back Andre Pierman and defensive end Dorian Watters led the stifling Hornet defense. Pierman finished with a team high 7 solo tackles to go along with a forced fumble and an interception. Watters finished with 4 solo tackles, including 2 sacks and 2 tackles for a loss.

The Hornets finished with 4 fumbles and an interception. No doubt they will be working on ball security at practice this week.

The Hornets look to improve to 2-0 next week when they travel to Mt. San Antonio College to face the Mounties. The game starts at 6:00pm on Saturday at Hilmer Lodge Stadium. The Mounties (1-0) are coming off a 42-19 blowout victory over Canyons College.

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