SAN DIEGO — Palomar College quarterback Brett Salisbury's first pass was intercepted. On his team's second play, center Dan Lynds was injured and left the game. By halftime, Salisbury himself was writhing on the ground with a sprained ankle.
But between Salisbury's ominous beginning and his exit with 10 seconds remaining in the first half, the quarterback who left Brigham Young University showed why he's the nation's leading community college passer.
He completed 15 of 24 passes for 379 yards and four touchdowns Saturday to lead Palomar (7-4) to a 28-24 victory over Antelope Valley College (8-3) in the fifth annual Hall of Fame Bowl at Balboa Stadium.
Palomar was the champion of the Mission Conference's Southern Division, Antelope Valley the second-place team from the Foothill Conference. The Marauder defense had fared well against passing teams, limiting Foothill Conference leader East L.A. to 75 yards.
But the Comets were different.
"I thought he was everything everybody said he was," Marauder Coach Brent Carder said of Salisbury.
And maybe more, considering every snap was an adventure after Lynds was injured. He was replaced by tackle Raul Rodriguez--who had never played center. Two other linemen, Mario Carrizosa and Tom Winter, had played only sparingly.
"Lynds was the one guy who we couldn't afford to lose, not even including the quarterback," Palomar Coach Tom Craft said. "We were a little out of sync, but then we got into rhythm right before halftime, then we lost it again (when Salisbury was hurt)."
Salisbury, who injured the ankle earlier this season, was replaced by freshman Choo Choo Walker. He completed seven of 17 passes for 107 yards, rushed seven times for 45 yards and caught four passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
Palomar converted two first-quarter fumble recoveries into touchdowns. Salisbury passed 69 yards to Myron Wise, and 13 yards to Walker.
Wise, the offensive player of the game, finished with 12 receptions for 333 yards. Palomar outgained Antelope Valley, 612-394.
Antelope Valley's Steve Miller scored on a 57-yard run to make it 14-6. But the point-after attempt--and the three ensuing attempts--failed.
Salisbury followed with an 82-yard scoring pass to Wise to make it 21-6. Later, he directed a five-play, 94-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard pass to Walker.