No. 2 Riverside Football Clips Fullerton for First Time Since 2014

Photo by Bobby R. Hester
Photo by Bobby R. Hester

Defensive prowess, limited offensive chances and a rivalry that has been brewing on hot for the past five years. All three were on display this Saturday afternoon as the No. 2 Riverside City College football team traveled to Yorba Linda High School to take on the No. 18 Fullerton College Hornets on Shapell Field. Under the blazing sun, it was the Tiger who prevailed by the final score of 16-7.

Saturday's win marks Riverside's first triumph over Fullerton since 2014. The Hornet's offense was held to an eight percent third down efficiency rating and buckled to a mere seven points. It is the first time since 2004 the Hornets have scored less than eight points in a game and the first time since 2015 they have been held scoreless at the half.  

In a similar performance of last week's victory, the Riverside defense was unbelievably stout. Despite allowing over three bills in total offense, the Tigers made multiple stops when it counted. The Tigers forced the Hornets to punt eight times.

Both sides struggled to gain any offensive momentum in the first quarter, so each side relied on their defense and special teams. Fullerton had the opportunity to strike first, but sophomore Jalen Bowens busted through the line and blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless after the opening 15 minutes.

Riverside and Fullerton traded three-and-outs to begin the second half. Despite the choppy offense, freshman quarterback Jacob Barlage began to push the pigskin down the field highlighted by a pair of connections to sophomore wide receiver Tyler Kennedy. He later located freshman wide receiver Reggie Retzlaff for an 18-yard reception to land Riverside in the red zone. Freshman running back Camron Bausley carted the ball twice and brought the Tigers to the half-yard line. Sophomore quarterback Mike Irwin capped the drive with a one-yard scurry to the end zone leading to a 7-0 advantage that carried into halftime.

Fullerton struck late in the third quarter to bring the score to an even seven all. Nevertheless, the Tigers defense continued to rise to the occasion. Following a drive in which the Tigers drove the ball 42 yards down the field into the red zone only to turn the ball over via interception on the two-yard line, the Riverside defense went to work right away. Bowens, who proved to be a hero earlier, continued to dawn his cape and record a tackle-for-loss in the end zone, resulting in a safety and a 9-7 lead.

Special teams put the final nail in the coffin late in the fourth quarter by forcing a muffed punt. The Hornet's punter recovered the botched snap and attempted to run for the first down, but sophomore Jamon McGlory tracked him down and stopped him for a loss of 22 yards forcing a turnover on downs. Barlage and Kennedy sealed the deal with a 15-yard touchdown connection leading to a 16-7 win.

Special teams play stood out today highlighted by the efforts of freshman punter Carson Reed. He reared back for 10 punts for 393 yards with five landing the Hornets inside the 20-yard line. His longest punt of the day went for 53 yards. Bowens was also a menace as seen in a pair of blocked field goals.

Sophomore linebacker Kobey Fitzgerald was a monster by recording six tackles on paper, but contributing even more than a box score can display. He swarmed to nearly every play making it challenging for Fullerton to do string together any offensive rhythm. Sophomore safety Isaia PaoPao notched six tackles as well.

Riverside (1-0) will return home to take on San Bernadino Valley College on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. Follow live on Riverside Athletics YouTube Channel.