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Orange County Sports / The Colleges : Titans End Up-Down Season on a Winning Note

November 22, 1987|ROBYN NORWOOD | Times Staff Writer

Most of Cal State Fullerton's football team hung around midfield long after the game was over Saturday, visiting and shaking hands.

It was no wild celebration, but a tradition known as "senior walk" that always follows the last game of the season.

It could have been a somber occasion for them. Had the Titans lost, they would have finished their second consecutive losing season.

As it was, a 43-26 nonconference victory over Montana in front of 2,141 in Santa Ana Stadium made it pleasant enough. Fullerton finished 6-6 and tied with two other teams for second place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. with a 4-3 record.

Four school records set by Todd White made it even more pleasant.

White, a wide receiver, caught 8 passes for 163 yards in his final game as a Titan.

The records: single-season receptions (54), single-season receiving yards (832), single-season punt-return yards (374) and career punt-return yards (420).

With six seconds remaining, White was tied for the record for receptions in a season. But after a timeout, reserve quarterback Rich Sheriff completed a four-yard pass to White on the final play to give White the record.

"The records feel good. I can enjoy them now," said White, a fifth-year senior. "I just wanted us to win our last game."

White had set career records for pass receptions and receiving yards earlier this season, and he finished with 98 catches for 1,704 yards.

Ronnie Barber, the Fullerton quarterback, set a record of his own, passing for a career-high 305 yards in his final game as a Titan. He completed 18 of 31 passes, throwing for 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.

"That's just the way to end the season for a good bunch of seniors, especially for Todd White and Ronnie Barber," said Gene Murphy, Titan coach. "You look back and think what could have been this year, but we'll just enjoy today."

Fullerton, which lost its first two games, won five of seven in the middle of the season, losing only to Florida and San Jose State during that stretch. But the Titans had faltered in their past two games.

Montana (6-5), a Division I-AA team and a member of the Big Sky Conference, stayed with Fullerton early, largely on the strength of two gadget plays that resulted in touchdowns.

On the first, a misdirection play, Grizzly quarterback Scott Werbelow found Matt Clark wide open behind the secondary at about the Titan 31. Clark ran it in easily for a 63-yard touchdown play.

On the second, Werbelow threw a lateral to Scott Zanon, who found Brad Saloneu behind the secondary for a 69-yard touchdown play.

Fullerton held a 19-14 lead at halftime, after John Gibbs' 39-yard touchdown reception play, Eric Franklin's three-yard run, and Stan Lambert's two field goals--one a career-best 51-yarder.

The Titans trailed, 20-19, with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter after a Grizzly touchdown and a failed two-point conversion, but they kicked a field goal and scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns while holding Montana (6-5) to six points through the rest of the game.

Franklin, another of 21 Fullerton seniors, rushed for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns in 21 carries. It was his fifth consecutive game with at least 100 yards.

Mostly, the Titans were happy to win.

"Exactly," Barber said. "When it got close earlier in the year, we tended to fall apart. Not this time."

The Titans were rebounding from a loss to Pacific last week in a game they easily could have won.

"Last Saturday night, I had the worst feeling I've ever had," White said. "We just wanted to win. . . . We had a heck of a team, and I'll look back and know we played hard every game."

Titan Notes

Jeff Taylor, a senior linebacker who earned a starting spot during the season, had perhaps the best game of his career with 2 solo sacks for 25 yards and one interception. . . . Stan Lambert's strange season was strange right up to the end. He made 3 of 4 field goal attempts, including the 51-yarder, but missed a 43-yard attempt and one extra-point attempt. Lambert, who made 8 of 8 in the Titans' first four games, had missed four of five before Saturday. . . . Damien Macaluso, a redshirt freshman and third-string tight end, caught his first pass as a Titan--a touchdown reception. . . . Chris Miller, a senior defensive back who did not play high school football and had not played as a Titan, was one of the captains for the game and played. "I'm more happy about that than anything but the win," Murphy said.

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