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The Hornet

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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Hornets take key and shut the door on rival Dons

After a tough loss to Riverside last week, Fullerton traveled to Eddie West Field in Santa Ana on Saturday for the 92nd annual Key to the County Game and turned things around in a big way. The Hornets defeated the rival Dons 49-14. The victory makes it eight straight against rival Santa Ana, spanning back to 2007.

All three phases of the game played a crucial role as the Hornets dominated the annual contest from beginning to end. The Hornets offense was lead by quarterback Joey Verhaegh, who played a near mistake free game en route to 245 yards passing. The Hornets balanced attack on a scorching mid-day game wore down the Dons in the second half.

After a tough loss, Verhaegh wasn’t discouraged. The quarterback knew they could turn things around this week.

“It started on Monday when we watched film. We definitely weren’t over matched last week, we just underplayed. So this week we knew that if we could come out strong and finish strong, we would get the win,” said Verhaegh.

Opening things up for Verhaegh all game long was a punishing rushing attack, led by Jamal Sam and Oran Maxwell, who churned through Santa Ana’s defense, demanding the Dons’ attention at all times.

“When they are running like they did this week it’s pretty nice, it’s a good feeling. It means that we can pass well too, it opens up everything,” said Verhaegh.

The Hornets began the game by taking their opening drive 81 yards, capped off with a 5-yard scamper by Sam into the end zone. In the drive, Verhaegh hit three different receivers completing five of six passes.

Verhaegh and the offense did not waste any time with their next possession, going 64 yards, this time Verhaegh punched it in himself from the two yard line. Spreading the ball around, the Hornets had six different players get touches during the drive.

The Dons answered back with a drive of their own in the second quarter. Running the spread option, Santa Ana took the ball 51 yards and scored when quarterback Lincoln Faletoi hit Hayden Dunn on a 6-yd pass for the touchdown with four minutes left to play in the half.

Not to be out-done, Verhaegh came right back and drove the ball 65 yards hitting Jarell Moss for a six yard score with just three seconds on the clock. Going into the half the score was 21-7.

“We just kept pushing, we practiced what we wanted to do during the week and we came out and did it,” said Verhaegh.

The second half started with a bang, Marnez Ogletree received the ensuing kickoff and ran a fake reverse, tricking the defense as he bolted down the Hornets sideline 105 yards for the score. The Dons body language as a collective was dejected and they would never recover.

The Hornets got the ball back on their own one yard line and proceeded to march the ball down the field 99 yards, highlighted by a pair of 25-yard runs by Sam and Eugene Baker.

With a comfortable 35-7 lead, the Hornets featured a dominant run-game the rest of the way. They committed to the run and the Dons defense had no answer. Four different Hornets had carries over 20-yards.

“I have a group that I know can get it done. They are all pretty talented, this year I have four or five guys that can do the job. They can all perform,” said Running Backs Coach Collin Wigley.

Sam led the team with 124 yards and three scores. Oran Maxwell also got in the end zone, rushing for 53 yards on eight carries.

“The difference from last week was just getting everybody healthy. We were healthy and the offensive line really opened up some holes for us today,” said Maxwell.

To turn things around they emphasized being prepared and executing.

“Last week it was a big atmosphere and the guys just weren’t ready. This week we made sure that we were ready. We were able to execute and the kids were ready to play,” said Wigley.

Leading the Hornets defensively were Dorian Watters, who finished with three tackles including one sack and one tackle for loss, and Austin Steele who had five tackles to go with an interception that looked like a perfectly executed high-point drill, as he out-jumped the Dons receiver for the ball at the Hornets one yard line.

The Dons spread option attack did have some success. Running back Tyler Sludzinski carried the ball 20 times for 148 yards with one touchdown. Lincoln Faletoi also went 3-3 passing for 53 yards with one touchdown.

Next up the Hornets (3-0) in Conference play, take on Grossmont College on Saturday October 25 at Shappell Stadium in Yorba Linda, with kickoff at 6 p.m.

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