Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Fullerton had very different weeks leading up to their game Saturday.
One team's was filled with the pleasant feeling of being undefeated going into the season's third game. The other's was filled with near-misery and more than a bit of ridicule.
How things can change. The 49ers, who were 2-0, are now 2-1, and the Titans, once 0-2, are 1-2 after a 31-12 Fullerton victory Saturday night in front of 6,919 in Santa Ana Stadium, Fullerton's home field.
The 49ers had taken one approach to early season nonconference games. They were the winners of two home games against Montana State and Weber State, Division II teams from the Big Sky Conference.
The Titans did things differently, and twice were beaten by 44 points for doing so. Fullerton had played Division I teams--Hawaii of the Western Athletic Conference and sixth-ranked Louisiana State of the Southeastern Conference.
Back in their own league, so to speak--Saturday's game was the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. opener for both teams--things went differently.
Fullerton, which had been unable to score a touchdown in its two previous games, untracked its offense against the 49ers, scoring on the game's opening possession and taking a 17-6 halftime lead.
The 49ers, who had scored 81 total points in their first two games on the passing of Jeff Graham, struggled against a Fullerton defense that had allowed 100 points in two games.
Graham passed for almost 3,000 yards last year and had completed 33 of 42 passes in his first two games this year, but he had a dismal first half, completing only 3 of 10 passes for 32 yards.
The Titans drove 95 yards on the first possession largely on Ronnie Barber's passing and a 15-yard run by Tracey Pierce.
Their first touchdown of the season came when Barber's seven-yard pass intended for White was deflected in a crowd in the end zone, and ended up in the hands of tight end Jim Thornton.
The 49ers scored on their second possession. The drive was keyed by a 23-yard run by Michael Roberts, who was brought down finally by Tyrone Pope at the Fullerton 24-yard line. Roberts carried the ball on four of the next five plays as the 49ers drove to the 1-yard line, and Graham sneaked in for the touchdown with 13:16 remaining in the half.
David VanSteenkiste missed the extra-point attempt to the left, however, leaving the score at 7-6.
Fullerton relied largely on the pass on its first touchdown drive, but its second was all on the ground.
Michael Moore's 46-yard punt return from the 2-yard line, coupled with a 15-yard penalty against the Titans, put the ball at the Long Beach 37-yard line. The rest, except for a no-gain sneak by Barber, was all Eric Franklin. He carried the ball six times with a long gain of 14 before scoring on an 8-yard run around right end.
Stan Lambert, whose four field goals against LSU accounted for all the Titans' scoring before Saturday, gave Fullerton a 17-6 lead on a 20-yard field goal with 4:45 remaining in the half.
The Titans scored on Pierce's carry from the one-yard line to expand the lead to 24-6 with 12:32 remaining.
Graham was more on the mark in the second half, and the 49ers' second touchdown was set up by a 43-yard pass play to Derek Washington. One play later, Graham hit Tyrone McCullouch with a 12-yard touchdown pass. This time, VanSteenkiste's kick was good, and Long Beach cut the lead to 24-12.
The Titans' final score came on Barber's 28-yard touchdown pass to Bill Brennan.