There wasn't much talk of yards among the Cal State Fullerton football people Monday, but more of feet and inches. And ifs.
Titan Coach Gene Murphy called Saturday's 21-17 loss at Fresno State the second-toughest defeat in his eight years at Fullerton, outdone only by a 1984 loss at Nevada Las Vegas that prevented the Titans from going undefeated, finishing 11-1 instead.
Twice in the loss to Fresno State, the Titans came up short on crucial short-yardage situations. The most crucial: first-and-goal at the three. Fullerton got to the one-yard line on the first down play, but never crossed the goal line. The other: On fourth-and-less-than-one at the Fresno 25-yard line in the fourth quarter, officials ruled quarterback Ronnie Barber's sneak short of the first down.
It was a defeat that took the Titans out of contention for a share of the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. title, knocked them out of sole possession of second place and ended their hopes for an 8-4 season. Now, with two games remaining, Fullerton is 5-5.
Murphy was unhappy with the spotting of the ball after Barber's fourth-and-one sneak, but also discounted it, saying the Titans should have scored on the goal-line series.
"You always think about the 'ifs,' " he said. "But that's the way it goes."
Fullerton, which once led, 10-0, allowed Fresno to score all three of its touchdowns in the final 3:33 of the first half to take a 21-17 lead. Staunch defense from both teams made the second half a mutual shutout.
Frequent Flyer's Lament: The Titan travels are over. Only two games remain, both at Santa Ana Stadium. The players who made each of Fullerton's six trips by plane this season flew about 17,800 miles--the total roundtrip mileage between LAX and Honolulu, Baton Rouge, La., Salt Lake City, San Jose, Gainesville, Fla., and Chicago.
Alas, receiving frequent-flyer program credit for the travel would have been a violation of NCAA regulations that prohibit athletes from such material gain, meaning that around 900,000 miles went unclaimed, figuring that around 50 players made each trip.
The coaches and administrators who travel with the team, however, did enroll in frequent-flyer programs, and plan to use any discounts or free tickets earned toward athletic department travel such as recruiting trips and conventions, according to Steve DiTolla, associate athletic director.
The public's first chance to see Coach George McQuarn's basketball team in action is Wednesday night, when the Blue-Orange scrimmage will be held in Titan Gym.
The Titans, coming off a 17-13 season and a National Invitational Tournament appearance, have spent much of preseason practice looking for a way to replace Derek Jones, the 6-foot 7-inch starting forward who was critically wounded in an August drive-by shooting in Long Beach. Jones is not in school and is recovering at his home in Long Beach.
Richard Morton, a guard who led the Titans with an 18.4 scoring average last season, and Henry Turner, a forward who averaged 15.2 points, are the top returners.
The men play an exhibition against the Sweden Malbas team Nov. 21 before opening the season against Montana in Missoula, Mont., on Dec. 2.
The women's team, which returns five starters, will hold an intra-squad scrimmage beginning at 6 p.m., with the men playing at 7:35.
Both scrimmages are free and open to the public.
Add McQuarn & Co.: The opening day of the early signing period for prep basketball players is only a day away, and McQuarn didn't miss a trick last Friday night in his quest for Santa Ana High School forward Bobby Joyce.
Joyce starts at free safety for the Saints' football team, which defeated Villa Park, 20-6, for the Century League championship Friday. Among the 4,800 fans in attendance: McQuarn, assistant John Sneed and the Titan basketball team.
The group arrived just in time to watch Joyce slip on the muddy Santa Ana Stadium turf as Villa Park running back John Genova raced by him and around the left end for a nine-yard touchdown run.
High school players may sign a national letter of intent for a one-week period beginning Wednesday. Fullerton already has received verbal commitments from three players--Mike Brown of Westchester High School, Terry Nelson of Long Beach Poly, and Agee Ward of L.A. Washington--who are expected to sign Wednesday. Ward, a 6-0, 215-pound forward who averaged 19.2 points and 11 rebounds a game last season, announced his verbal commitment Monday.
Fullerton lost two key defensive players to injuries in the loss to Fresno State. Sophomore linebacker Chris Wright, the Titans' second-leading tackler, likely is out for the season and may undergo knee surgery. Cornerback James Howard, a junior, is questionable for the game against Pacific Saturday . . . The wrestling team will hold its intra-squad match--the Clash of the Titans, Coach Dan Lewis calls it--Monday night in Titan Gym. Challenge matches in nine weight divisions will decide which wrestlers open the season for the team. Only the 118-pound class has been decided--Erin Millsap, who finished second in the Junior World Championships last summer, has earned that spot. There is no admission charge for the match, which begins at 7:30 p.m. . . Former Titan kicker Vince Abbott led the San Diego Chargers to a 16-13 victory over Indianapolis Sunday with three second-half field goals, including the game-winner, a 39-yard attempt with 12 seconds remaining.