Fullerton, which has had many positive things happen in the fourth quarter this season, got a late break and took advantage of it to beat Rancho Santiago, 24-17, in a Mission Conference Central Division game Saturday at Santa Ana Stadium.
The loss stopped Rancho Santiago's five-game winning streak and dropped the Dons into a first-place tie with Saddleback in the division. Rancho Santiago (6-3, 4-1) plays at Saddleback Saturday with a bowl berth on the line.
"It really didn't hurt us in the standings," Rancho Santiago Coach Dave Ogas said. "We need to win next week anyway. It's more of pride thing today."
Fullerton tied the score, 17-17, when quarterback Eric Hannah threw 11 yards to tight end Ryan Schatz with 5 minutes 33 seconds left.
The Hornets (3-5-1, 3-2), who have four losses by a combined 11 points, then got the break of the game. Kicker Chris Diaz was told to bounce the ball down the middle of the field to prevent a long return.
But he lined it off the leg of a Rancho Santiago up blocker and Fullerton's Wayne Ryan recovered at the Hornet 47 with 5:25 left.
"That was luck," Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy said.
Fullerton needed six plays to score, with the winning touchdown coming on an 11-yard pass from Hannah to Morris Luevano with 2:31 left. Luevano also ran for 22 yards in the drive.
Hannah was 29 of 54 for 384 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Rancho Santiago reached Fullerton's 45 on its final drive but Matt Frembling and Joe Petronis combined on a sack for a minus-five yards on first down. The drive ended when quarterback Rob Petko's fourth-down pass was incomplete with 1:45 left.
Fullerton ran out the clock to even the all-time series at 34-34-4.
Steve Bodnar scored on runs of one and six yards in the second quarter as Rancho Santiago opened a 17-10 halftime lead. Bodnar, who fumbled twice, finished with 134 yards in 21 carries.