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ORANGE COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

Fullerton's Defense Takes Control

October 14, 2000|PETER YOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

You look at the final score and words like "shootout" and "fireworks" come to mind, but it was a staunch Fullerton defense that paved the way for the Indians in a 46-29 victory over Troy in a Freeway League opener Friday night at Fullerton High.

In what had been a see-saw offensive battle for much of the first three quarters, the Indians (5-1, 1-0) rose to a new defensive level in the fourth, shut down the Warriors (4-2, 0-1) and took control of what should be a tight Freeway League race.

Troy, which entered the game averaging 37.8 points per game, went the final 20 minutes 34 seconds Friday night without a point.

A couple of untimely turnovers ended Troy drives, including a fumble caused by Fullerton linebacker Gerren Brantley when he delivered a bone-crushing hit on Troy quarterback Jordan Oliver at the Fullerton 31-yard line.

Troy trailed, 46-29, at the time but could have pulled to within striking distance with a score and more than five minutes to play.

"We knew they had a tough offense," Brantley said. "They were moving the ball on us so we had to turn it up to another level. We pulled together and the defense was the key. Defense is always the key."

Fullerton's defense entered the game allowing only 5.4 points a game, including two shutouts. But Troy was within two points when Oliver kicked a 29-yard field goal to make the score 31-29 with just under seven minutes to play in the third quarter.

But the Indians forced a Troy punt, recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass on Troy's next three possessions.

The Fullerton offense, meanwhile, kept on rolling. Running back Ryan Murray, who rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns in 17 carries, called this the biggest game of the season.

"This was huge," Murray said. "Troy is one of the better teams we'll see all year. We had to dig deep in our hearts to pull this one out."

Fullerton's Able Hernandez set the tone after halftime when he returned the second-half kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and a 31-20 Fullerton lead.

Troy answered with a five-yard touchdown run by Paul Evenson, who carried 28 times for 137 yards and four touchdowns.

Two plays later, Oliver recovered a Fullerton fumble, setting up his own field goal. Troy gained only 78 yards the rest of the game.

A Daniel Fells 26-yard touchdown reception and a 77-yard touchdown run by Murray highlighted the first half.

Fells, who had four catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns, leaped high in the air and made a two-handed grab over the Troy defender near the pylon for a 17-7 Fullerton lead.

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