FULLERTON — Fountain Valley's John Sanders gave Servite fits Friday night. So much so that for most of the second half there were three or four Friars next to him whether he touched the ball or not.
A senior tailback, Sanders rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns in 14 carries and had five kick returns for 139 yards to lead the eighth-ranked Barons to a 34-23 nonleague victory at Cal State Fullerton.
He punctuated the evening's work with a 38-yard run in the final minute. He had to be brought down from behind or he would have reached the end zone for the third time.
Fountain Valley is 4-0. Servite, which could not hold a 15-7 lead it held midway through the second quarter, fell to 1-3.
Sanders burst off tackle for 17 yards on the Barons' third play of the game, then broke several would-be tackles on a 22-yard score with five minutes 48 seconds gone in the first quarter.
It was an important series for Fountain Valley, according to Coach George Berg, who said he watched films of Santa Margarita's 55-14 victory over Servite a week before and believed the Barons could also exploit Servite's linebackers and secondary.
He was right. Despite falling behind by eight points after Servite kicker Scott Lambert connected on a 32-yard field goal for a 15-7 lead, Sanders returned Lambert's kickoff 74 yards.
Two plays later, quarterback Jason Morris shoveled a nine-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Josh Nimmo. The extra point try failed.
Then with 1:42 seconds left before halftime, Sanders scampered 14 yards for the go-ahead score after an interception by Ray Sarafian. Servite had had enough. On the second-half kickoff, the Friars kicked away from Sanders, who to that point had returned three kickoffs for 118 yards.
"I should have kicked away from him earlier," Servite Coach Larry Toner said. "I wasn't smart enough to realize that I should do that in time. He made a big difference in the game. We couldn't contain him."
Berg called Sanders "a real nifty runner."
"Any time he has the ball there is always the threat that he is going to go all the way," Berg said.
Quarterback Jason Morris completed 12 of 23 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. The big play was a short toss over the middle to end Aaron Carter that he turned into a 92-yard touchdown run.
Servite quarterback Dan Petropolus had to go the distance because senior Ryan Garko is recovering from a broken bone in his hand.