SANTA ANA - Things seemed to be going the Dons way early on in their annual meeting with Fullerton College. But the visiting Hornets took advantage of Dons miscues before retaining the Key to the County as the Dons lost 57-23.
This was the 90th meeting between the two schools while also holding playoff implications. A win meant the Dons (7-3, 4-2) would grab the National Division, Southern Conference Championship while qualifying for the playoffs. Fullerton (6-5, 5-1), on the other hand, will now have to wait and see how Saddleback College's season ends to know if they claimed the title or not.
The Dons had control of the game early on as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter on a 28-yard field goal by Dillan Freiberg and an eight-yard touchdown run by Areseo Lakey. Lakey's touchdown was the final play of an 11-play, 99-yard drive for the Dons.
Fullerton put itself on the scoreboard early in the second quarter on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Conor Bednarski to Eli Pleasant. The Hornets took their first lead of the game later in the quarter on a three-yard touchdown run by Kion Williams.
Joshua Webb reclaimed the lead for the Dons at 16-14 with a 26-yard touchdown reception with the ensuing point after attempt being blocked. The Dons seemed destined to take the lead into the half, but Jamison Stearns returned the Dons short kickoff 60-yards for a touchdown, giving Fullerton a 21-16 lead at the half.
The Hornets continued to ride the momentum of that kickoff return into the second half, outscoring the Dons 36-7. Ryan Longoria caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Bednarski before Alex Bernstein returned an interception 21-yards for a touchdown.
Webb scored the Dons only touchdown of the second half on a 65-yard reception from Beau Perry before Lavorrie Johnson scored on a 75-yard touchdown run for the Hornets. The final two scores were a five-yard touchdown pass from Bednarski to J.D. Blackamore and a three-yard touchdown run by Tony Austin.
Bednarski was named the game's Most Valuable Player as he finished with 251 yards on 18-for-28 passing and three touchdowns. Webb was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player with his pair of touchdowns and 116 receiving yards. Josh Seiler was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player after recording eight tackles, seven solo, with three tackles for a loss and one sack.