LOGAN, Utah — Quarterback Kevin Jan finally escaped from the shadow of Damon Allen, and Cal State Fullerton emerged as a bona fide contender for the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. title Saturday as the Titans rallied to beat Utah State, 32-30, at Romney Stadium.
Jan's poise and passing took the Titans 54 yards in the final minute and a half, setting up Len Strandley's 39-yard game-winning field goal with 10 seconds left as Fullerton improved its conference mark to 2-0 and overall record to 2-3. Utah State is 2-3 and 2-4.
Jan and the Fullerton offense have struggled to find consistency all season, but they finally discovered it in the second half Saturday. Jan, who had just 55 yards passing in the first half, rebounded with an Allen-like second half and finished 21 of 35 for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The not-very-mobile senior isn't going to make anyone forget the elusive Allen, who made his debut with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League Saturday after passing for a school-record 2,469 yards in Fullerton's best-ever season (11-1) last year. But Jan left a lasting impression on the 9,047 who braved a chilly drizzle to see the Aggies lose a game they appeared to have had won.
Utah State running back Richard Gwynn, who plowed through an injury-decimated Titan defense for 145 yards in 20 carries, scored his third touchdown of the day on a six-yard run with 4:56 left to play to put the Aggies ahead, 30-29. But Jan, working with just one timeout, brought the Titans back, completing passes of 17, 6, 10 and a key 8-yarder to tight end Jim Thornton on fourth and four at midfield.
"We're 2-0 and that's all that matters," a jubilant Jan said. "I didn't really play that well, but I keep getting a little better and that's important."
Jan's progress had been sluggish at best, but Saturday marked a "big step forward," in Titan Coach Gene Murphy's estimation.
"He really did a hell of a job with the two-minute drill," Murphy said. "He showed a lot of poise."
Strandley, who was 3 for 6 on field goals and 7 of 9 on conversions when he stepped up to attempt the game-winner, said he never lost his confidence.
"I missed two last week and was down a little, but I told the coaches I could have made it from 62 when they decided to go for it on fourth," Strandley said. "I was nervous but I knew I could do the job."
The Fullerton players exploded off the sidelines and went into a celebration at midfield as Strandley's kick sailed through the uprights. Murphy tried to push the mob back, but the Titans drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that could have cost them the game.
After kicking one out of bounds, Strandley kicked off from the Titan 20. Utah State got possession near midfield, gained seven yards on a quick pass before Dene Garner's 62-yard field-goal attempt fell short as the game ended.