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Fullerton keeps rockin', rolls into semifinals
FULLERTON – Fullerton carried a music-themed mantra into Friday's CIF-SS Southwest Division second round game against Los Alamitos.
“Turn the non-believers into Journey fans,” said Indians quarterback Scott Lloyd, referring to the rock band's 1980s hit, “Don't Stop Believin'.”
The Indians likely picked up a few more believers as they extended their improbable season with a 21-7 victory against the visiting Griffins (9-3), who tied for second place in the Sunset League.
Fullerton (10-2), the third-place team from the Freeway League, forced seven turnovers in advancing to the semifinals against Newport Harbor, which upset top-seeded La Habra, 49-48.
Lloyd paced Fullerton's offense by rushing for 105 yards on 27 carries, throwing a touchdown and guiding an offense that didn't commit a turnover and went 5 for 7 on fourth-down conversions.
The balanced effort came from a Fullerton team that lost its coach, Julian Smilowitz, to an administrative issue before the season.
“We were definitely the underdog in this game,” Lloyd said. “Adversity has (something) to do with it, but it's (also) hard work in January, February and March and all the way through this.”
Defensive backs Deryck Fletcher and James Hubbard led Fullerton’s defense. Fletcher intercepted three passes in the second half, including one on the final play, and Hubbard had one interception in each half.
The Indians forced four turnovers in the third quarter, capitalizing twice to open a 21-0 lead.
In the third, linebacker Marquis Cerillo recovered a fumble forced by Fletcher at the Los Alamitos 31, leading to a 1-yard TD run by Lloyd with 4:25 left in the period.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cerillo again recovered a fumble, this one at the Los Alamitos 41. Running back Damani Roberts scored five plays later on a 30-yard TD run for a 21-0 lead with 2:18 left.
Los Alamitos' Mike Hayden ran in a 1-yard TD with 9:55 left in the fourth, but the night belonged to Fullerton's defense.
“My poor defense, they never get enough credit,” Fullerton co-coach Gus Martinez said. “They deserve all the credit tonight. We were able to pound it out. We spread them out and were able to run our quarterback.”
Los Alamitos lost its quarterback, Nick Wendell, to an apparent shoulder injury in the second quarter.
“They outplayed us every way possible,” Los Alamitos coach John Barnes said.
Los Alamitos finished with 3 yards passing in the second half and 37 for the game. The Griffins were held to 97 yards rushing.
Fullerton led, 7-0, at halftime thanks to a score on the opening possession. Lloyd capped an 11-play, 80-yard march with a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Hall .
Lloyd had converted a fourth-and-inches on a short pass to Roberts to move the ball to the 7, but it was a pass by Roberts on a trick play that sparked the scoring drive. On an early third down, he came in motion from receiver, took a handoff and threw deep to wide out Kaene Soto for a 47-yard gain to the Los Alamitos 26.
Fullerton’s defense made one of its biggest plays late in the second quarter. The Indians stuffed a Los Alamitos run on fourth-and-4 from the Fullerton 21, forcing the Griffins to turn the ball over on downs with 4:04 left in the half.
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