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COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Titans Make It Look Easy, for a Change : Fullerton Defense Stymies Utah State for Second Consecutive Victory

September 27, 1987|ROBYN NORWOOD | Times Staff Writer

LOGAN, Utah — Cal State Fullerton has had far more difficult games at Utah State's Romney Stadium than it did Saturday.

Until four years ago, the Titans had never won here. The last two times here, they had needed last-second field goals to win.

Not so this time. Fullerton, which two weeks ago was 0-2 after lopsided losses to Hawaii and Louisiana State, took a 9-0 lead on three field goals by Stan Lambert and finished with a 30-11 Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. victory over winless Utah State in front of a crowd of 15,786.

The Aggies (0-1, 0-3) were hoping to bounce back from losses to Nebraska and Kentucky, much as the Titans did last week by beating Cal State Long Beach.

How would they be against teams more on their level? After sitting idle last week, the Aggies didn't know, and neither did Fullerton (2-0, 2-2).

Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy gave much of the credit for the win to the defense, which held Utah State to a field goal until the Aggies scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with 17 seconds remaining in the game.

"Our defense played well for the second week in a row," Murphy said. "They were swarming around and making some good hits. We had good containment on the quarterback and some key sacks. Those kind of plays really fire everybody up and add to the momentum."

Tom Phillips led the Titan defense with 11 tackles.

"We were real confident," Phillips said. "I think the coach might have been worried we were overconfident."

Utah State Coach Chuck Shelton, who called Fullerton's 33-0 victory over the Aggies last year the worst college football game he has ever seen, obviously was disappointed in his team's play.

Shelton said the Aggie defense at times "looked kind of silly." He called his offense "impotent" for failing to score a touchdown late in the first half after driving as deep as the Fullerton 38-yard line, and for settling for a 25-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter after having first down at the 10-yard line.

"I thought we really played hard today," Shelton said. "It's perplexing that we play a hard and physical game and still don't win. We didn't respond."

Was there something Fullerton did that the Aggies didn't expect?

"Beat us," Shelton said.

Lambert, a Long Beach City College transfer who has not missed a field goal in eight attempts this season, made two from 46 yards and one from 40 yards. He also was 3 for 3 on extra point attempts, and he has not missed one of those this year, either.

'I love kicking in this elevation," said Lambert, referring to Romney Stadium's elevation of approximately 4,900 feet. "This is the best start I've ever had. I have a lot of confidence right now. I was hoping for a 50-yard attempt at the end."

Despite the appearance of an easy win, Fullerton was outgained, 384-345, in total offense.

"When they cut it to 9-3 (in the third quarter), that was a big scare," Murphy said.

Todd White, a fifth-year wide receiver who well remembers the two last-second field goals Fullerton needed to win here before, wasn't comfortable with the 9-3 lead the Titans had early in the third quarter.

"I held for those two field goals, (the game-winners in past years) and they were long and shaky," White said. "In the first half I was a little worried. I thought we should have gotten those balls in the end zone."

White helped alleviate his worries with two touchdown receptions in the second half, both on passes from Ronnie Barber, who completed 11 of 18 passes for 174 yards.

Tight end Jim Thornton led the Fullerton receivers with 3 receptions for 51 yards.

Eric Franklin, who scored the Titans' other touchdown, led the ground attack with 66 yards in 13 carries.

Quarterback Brent Snyder led the Aggies, completing 17 of 37 passes for 265 yards.

The Titans suffered several injuries that may prove costly.

Ted Hinton, a starting outside linebacker who missed the first game after undergoing arthroscopic surgery, reinjured his knee in the first half, and Murphy called him "very, very, very questionable" for next week's game against San Jose State.

Murphy called Kelly Gogerty (knee), who started at defensive tackle, and John Gibbs (ankle), a starting wide receiver, "questionable." Gogerty and Gibbs were injured late in the fourth quarter.

The Titans, who set a school record of 16 penalties against Cal State Long Beach, had 13 penalties Saturday.

"The penalties hurt us early, but Utah State also played hard and kept us out of the end zone in the first half," Murphy said.

"We just won the battles," White said. "Our offensive line did its job. Our running backs did theirs, and our quarterback did his. Everybody just did his individual job, and when you do that, you're going to be successful."

Titan Notes

For the second straight Saturday, Fullerton played in the only PCAA game of the week. The two victories put Fullerton in first place, as meaningless as that may be until other teams begin conference play. ... Utah State's Brian Hunsaker sacked Ronnie Barber 3 1/2 times. . . . Todd White returned five punts for 130 yards, with a long of 30. ... Jim Sirois took advantage of the elevation, averaging 48.6 yards on 5 punts. . . . Jeff Taylor had one tackle--an unassisted sack for a nine yard loss. . . . Sean Fernandes, a walk-on who started in place of Tyrone Pope, who is injured, intercepted a pass.

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