National Champions 1991, 1993,
CHAMPIONS 1991, 1993, 1998 | CONFERENCE/DIVISION
CHAMPIONS 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999,
2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006 | POST-SEASON
APPEARANCES 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994,
1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2014
2017 Schedule, Results |
2016 Stats | 2016 Roster |
2016 Schedule, Results|
2016 Stats | 2016 Roster |
Records, Leaders (Through 2016
| 2015 Stats
Comets Currently in NFL, 4-year College Football
View, Download Hugh Cox's
2017 Season ...
Coach Joe Early talks to team at
conclusion of Saturday's first
practice of the season in full
gear. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Returning starting quarterback
Matt Romero hands off to Issiah
Aguero during 11-on-11 session.
Aguero follows tackle Mike
Childress (No. 77). J.D. Fox
(No. 47) defends.
PC appears more talented, deeper
as week 1 ends
SAN MARCOS (8-12-2017) --
Palomar's first three days of
football drills ended Saturday
with the first full-contact day
in full gear and coach Joe Early
sounding cautiously optimistic
about the 2017 season.
"We're more athletic than we've
been the last couple of years
and we're deeper," Early said.
"The effort has been good. I
like the energy and I like the
effort. We've got some
schismatic things we need to
clean up, and things we need to
take care of, and we have to
focus all next week to do that,
but I saw some real good
The Comets will practice daily
from Monday througth Saturday
leading up to a full-scale
intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday
which Early will bring in a
large crew of officials to work.
Palomar's top two quarterbacks
from last season, Matt Romero
and Ross Ebert, both are
returning and got most of the
reps in an 11-on-11 session that
ended the practice.
The Comets will scrimmage at
Riverside City College a week
from Thursday and will kick off
the season with a non-conference
game at Southwestern College on
Matt Romero, setting up to pass
here vs. Cerritos last fall,
will return as Palomar's
starting quarterback in 2017.
Romero passed for 2,574 yards
and 23 touchdowns as a freshman
in 2016. Protecting Romero here:
Justin Sattelmaier (No. 75), now
at Oregon State, and tight end
Robert Ursua, now at the
University of Texas at San
Antonio. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Comets to kick off season 2017
SAN MARCOS (7-23-2017) --
Palomar will kick off the 2017
season Saturday night, Sept. 2,
at Southwestern, will go back on
the road to play at Santa Monica
on Sept. 9, then will play five
of its remaining eight games at
home at Wilson Stadium in
Highlighting the Comets' season:
a 1 p.m. Oct. 28 National
Division Southern Conference
home game at Wilson Stadium
against defending conference,
state and JC Grid-Wire national
champion Fullerton College.
That will be Palomar's only
afternoon game, at least during
the regular season. Nine of the
Comets' 10 games will kick off
at 6 p.m.
Palomar Football Schedule 2017
Thu., Aug. 24 -- Scrimmage at
Riverside City College, 4 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 2 -- at
Southwestern, 6 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 9 -- at Santa
Monica, 6 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 16 -- vs. Cerritos,
Wilson Stadium, 6 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 23 -- at Moorpark, 6
Sat., Sept. 30 -- vs. Chaffey,
Wilson Stadium, 6 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 14 -- at Orange
Coast, Southern Conference game,
Sat., Oct. 21 -- vs. Golden
West, Southern Conference game,
Wilson Stadium, 6 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 28 -- vs. Fullerton,
Southern Conference game, Wilson
Stadium, 1 p.m.
Sat., Nov 4 -- at Saddleback,
Southern Conference game, 6 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 11 -- vs. Grossmont,
Southern Conference Game, Wilson
Stadium, 6 p.m.
Ex-Comet Dylan Donahue (No. 53)
goes through drills in New York
Jets rookie camp/mini-camp at
Florham, New Jersey. He was
drafted by the Jets in the fifth
round. -- Courtesy photo
Donahue 'steals the show' in
FLORHAM, New Jersey (5-13-2017)
-- Ex-Palomar defensive end
Dylan Donahue, a NCAA Division
II All-American at the
University of West Georgia at
the same position during the
2016 season, is immediately
turning heads in the New York
Jets' rookie camp/minicamp.
Connor Hughes, writing for NJ
Advance Media for the NJ.com web
site, had this to say about the
Jets' 2017 fifth-round draft
pick, who has impressed early on
at outside linebacker and on
Nice practice from Dylan Donahue
Linebacker Dylan Donahue, whom
the Jets drafted in the fifth
round, stole the show Saturday.
Donahue waws facing rookie
tackle Amadou Konte, a tryout
player from Benedictine.
By my count, Donahue had two
sacks. The first he gave an
outside look, which caught Konte
off balance. Donahue then shot
inside for a sack. On the
secondk, he ran Konte over with
a bull rush. After each play,
Donahue got up screaming and
flexing. He's an intense guy
with a hecuva back story."
CLICK HERE for Dylan
Donahue feature on ESPN.com
Former Comet Dylan Donahue, a
first-team Division II All-American at the
University of West Georgia after barely missing qualifying for NCAA
Division I, was selected in the fifth round of the
NFL draft Saturday by the New
York Jets. --
Jets draft ex-Comet Donahue in
PHILADELPHIA (4-29-2017) -- The
New York Jets selected former
Palomar defensive end Dylan
Donahue, an NCAA Division II
All-American out of the
University of West Georgia, in
the fifth round of the NFL draft
Donahue arrives with the Jets
with NFL bloodlines. He's the
son of Mitch Donahue, who played
for four seasons in the NFL with
the San Francisco 49ers and
Denver Broncos after being
drafted in the fourth round in
1991 as a defensive
end/linebacker out of the
University of Wyoming, where he
was two-time WAC Defensive
Player of the Year.
Dylan Donahue recorded 44.5
college sacks, 19 in two seasons
at Palomar and 25.5 in two
seasons at West Georgia. He was
2016 Gulf Coast Conference
Defensive Player of the Year
with 67 tackles, 20 for loss,
and 13.5 sacks as a senior.
Donahue is undersized for an NFL
defensive lineman at 6-3, 248
pounds but runs a 4.75 in the 40
and has exceptional feet and
quickness coming off the edge.
He could be moved to outside
The Bleacher Report web site on
Donahue: "He has the build of an
NFL outside linebacker with a
great motor and awesome
production at West Georgia.
Donahue posted 37.5 TFLs and
25.5 sacks in two seasons coming
off the left side of the
defense. With impressive
quickness off the snap, Donahue
is able to compete with athletic
offensive tackes. He's a natural
in space and uses his quickness
and balance to keep blockers
guessing while bending with
enough juice to accelerate out
of his turn. He has enough
upper-body power to press
blockers off his frame if they
get inside his arms. Donahue is
a developmental guy, and he has
enough tools to work with early
on. He's the type of worker who
will excel on special teams
while learning the game."
Former Comets who previously
were regular-season players for
the Jets were receiver Kevin
Swayne and DB/kick returner
|Tight end Sam
Browning is pictured when he played at
Palomar and heading upfield for Eastern
Michigan with one of his six receptions
against LSU in his junior season of 2015 in
a game in Baton Rouge, Lousiana. Browning
played his final college game on Friday for
Eastern Michigan against Old Dominion in the
Popeye Bahamas Bowl. -- Photo by Melinda
Finn (left); File Photo (right)
Browning goes out in style in last D-I
NAUSSAU, Bahamas (12-23-2016) --
Palomar's Sam Browning finished his
college football career in style on
Friday with a big catch in Eastern
Michigan's game with Old Dominion in the
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl at Thomas Robinson
234-pound senior tight end caught a
24-yard Brogan Roback pass for a first
down at the Old Dominion 29-yard
line, setting up the Eagles' first
touchdown in a tight game the Monarchs
finally won 24-20.
Browning had two solid seasons for
Eastern Michigan, with 35 receptions for
425 yards and three touchdowns. He also
rushed for 27 yards on three carries.
His biggest game for Eastern Michigan
came during his junior season a year ago
when he hauled in six passes for 87
yards in a 44-22 loss to LSU before
102,341 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
As a sophomore at Palomar during the
2013 season, the Escondido High School
product caught 21 passes in his last
four games, including six receptions for
51 yards against Fullerton and eight
receptions for 101 yards vs. Saddleback.
Browning finished the season with 29
receptions for 340 yards and two
Browning was offered by Colorado after
his sophomore year but had to stay at
Palomar, burning his redshirt year, in
order to complete academic requirements
to accept an NCAA Division I FBS
Another ex-Comet, punter Codey Wuthrich,
will finish his junior season for
Indiana University when the Hoosiers
play Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl at
the San Francisco 49ers' Levis Stadium
in Santa Clara this upcoming Tuesday.
tackle Justin Sattelmaier (No. 75),
shown recovering a fumble against
state and J.C. Grid-Wire national
champion Fullerton on Oct. 29,
defensive end end Roger Mann (directly above, left) and
tight end Robert Ursua (directly
above, right) are headed to NCAA Division I FBS
universities at the semester on full scholarships.
Mann is shown tackling Grossmont's quarterback for a
safety on Nov. 12. Ursua is pictured
catching a 2-point conversion pass
against Saddleback on Nov. 5. -- Photos
by Hugh Cox
Sattelmaier (Oregon St.), Mann, Ursua to D-I
SAN MARCOS (12-14-2016) (2-16-2016) --
First-team All-National Southern
Conference offensive tackle Justin
Sattelmaier, second-team defensive
end Roger Mann and second-team tight
end Robert Ursua will transfer to
four-year universities at the
semester on NCAA Division I FBS
Sattelmaier, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound
freshman out of Temecula Valley High
School, is Pac-12 bound. He'll
transfer to Oregon State. Mann, a
6-foot-3, 250-pound sophomore from
Rancho Bernardo High, will transfer
to UNLV of the Mountain West. Ursua, a 6-foot-3,
230-pound sophomore who came to
Palomar out of the U.S. Navy, is
the University of Texas at San
Antonio, a member of Conference USA.
Also, sophomore linebacker Kyle
Ashby (Torrey Pines High School) has
accepted a scholarship to NCAA
Division II Adams State.
Sattelmaier improved his recruiting
stock considerably by transferring
to Palomar out of Division II
Western Oregon, where he spent the
2015 season as a red-shirt coming
out of high school.
Mann recorded 40 tackles during his
sophomore season, with 12.5 tackles
for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles,
2 fumble recoveries (one he returned
for a touchdown), an interception
and a safety. He also was Palomar's
grade-point average leader with a
3.5 as a business major.
Ursua caught 62 passes for 648 yards
and 6 touchdowns in two seasons for
the Comets. During the 2016 season,
he had 40 receptions for 463 yards
and 5 TDs.
UTSA, which plays its home games at
the 65,000-seat Alamodome, has only
been playing football since 2011.
The Roadrunners were 6-6 during the
regular season, nearly upsetting
Arizona State before eventually
losing 32-28 on Sept. 16 at home,
and giving Texas A&M a scare before
finally losing 23-10 on Nov. 19 at
College Station, Texas. UTSA will
play New Mexico on Saturday in the
Gildan New Mexico Bowl in
Adams State-bound Ashby is a
third-generation Comet. His
grandfather, Jack Ashby, was a
receiver for Palomar and for the
University of Arizona. His father,
Scott Ashby, played safety for
Palomar and Western Oregon.
All 33 NFL teams have
first-team All-American defensive
end and ex-Comet Dylan Donahue of
the University of West Georgia on their
radar prior to the April 27-29
draft. -- Courtesy photo
Browning/Wuthrich to bowls
SAN MARCOS (12-07-2016) -- Three
former Palomar players are in the
news as college football heads into
the bowl season and, for one of the
conjecture leading up to the 2017
Georgia University defensive end
Dylan Donahue, the Southern
Conference Defensive Player of the
Year as a sophomore for the Comets
in 2015, has been selected to the
American Football Coaches
Association Division II All-American first team
following his senior season for West
Meanwhile, two other former
Comets are headed to bowl games. Tight end Sam
Browning and Eastern Michigan University (7-5) are
on their way to the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl vs. Old
Dominion on Dec. 23 at Nassau, Bahamas, while punter
Codey Wuthrich and Indiana University are headed to
the Foster Farms Bowl vs. Utah on Dec. 28 at the San
Francisco 49ers' Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Both
of the bowl games will be aired on ESPN.
who came to Palomar from West
Billings, Montana, has drawn every
NFL team to Carrollton, Georgia
during his senior season. The Gulf
South Conference Defensive Player of
the year who was fourth in
nationwide ballotig for the Gene
Upshaw Division II Lineman of the
Year award, recorded 13.5 sacks
during the 2016 season and 25.5 for
his West Georgia career.
In four college seasons,
two at Palomar and two at West Georgia, Donahue has
totaled 44.5 sacks. At Palomar, he had 67 tackles
and 8.5 sacks as a freshman in 2013 and 64 tackles
and 10.5 sacks the following season as a sophomore.
He was a solid Division I FBS recruit out of Palomar
but fell one unit short of qualifying.
Browning, originally from
Escondido High School, has caught 35 passes for 445
yards and three touchdowns over two seasons at
Eastern Michigan. His top games resulted in six
receptions for 87 yards as a junior in a 44-22 loss
to LSU at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and four catches
for 43 yards in a 48-41 win over Ball State as a
sophomore. He drew a scholarship offer out of
Colorado after his sophomore season with the Comets
but didn't qualify and had to spend an extra year at
Wuthridge, from La Costa
Canyon High, was the backup punter for Indiana (6-6)
in the Big Ten Conference this season as a junior
but is considered a candidate for the Hoosiers'
starting punter job for 2017 after head coach Kevin
Wilson abruptly resigned at the end of the regular
season and associate head coach Tom Allen was named
permanent head coach on Dec. 1.
It was Allen who brought
Wuthridge in as a preferred walk-on during the
summer with an opportunity to win the starting job
and a scholarship. And this time Woodrich, who views
the coaching change as a positive for his chances of
becoming the starting punter. In addition, this time
he will have spring practice under his belt when the
Hoosiers report to fall camp.
2016 Season ...
TOP PHOTO: Palomar's Roger Mann tackles
Grossmont quarterback Brad Cagle in the end
zone for a fourth-quarter safety that gave
the Comets a late eight-point lead on
Saturday. MIDDLE PHOTO: Johnny Arzola (No.
11) catches a 52-yard pass from Matt Romero
in traffic for the game's first touchdown.
DIRECTLY ABOVE: Dominique Love breaks up and
nearly intercepts this pass just in front of
the goal line. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Comets' big plays lead to win over G-House
CAJON (11-12-2016) --
Johnny Arzola caught a 52-yard touchdown
pass from Matt Romero, tacked on two field
goals and four extra points, and Issiah
Aguero rushed for 151 yards on 30 carries
and scored on a 1-yard run on Saturday as
Palomar closed an often frustrating football
season with a 36-28 victory over host
Aguero and Arzola had plenty of company on a
crowed Comets' list of heros against the
Romero passed for 273 yards and three
touchdowns, including two TD strikes to
Terrell Arnold for 48 and 19 yards. For his
part, Arnold also recovered a fumbled punt
at the Grossmont 9 to set up Arzola's second
field goal, a 27-yarder in the third
Roger Mann recovered a fumble at the
Grossmont to set up Arzola's 1-yard TD run.
He also intercepted a pass and tackled
Griffins' quarterback Brad Cagle in the end
zone for a fourth-quarter safety that put
the Comets' out of reach with the final
Moments earlier, punter Sam Tapia put the
Griffins' with their backs to the wall when
he boomed a 46-yarder that was downed at the
1-yard line. For the day, Tapia kicked the
punt that the Grossmont receiver fumbled as
he tried to fair catch the ball at the 9,
the one that Arnold recovered. For the game,
Tapia deposited 5 punts inside the 20,
including 4 inside the 10.
Zach Gallina intercepted a pass in the end
zone shortly after the safety and returned
it 38 yards to ice the victory. He also had
6 solo tackles, made a huge hit to break up
a pass and forced a fumble.
Thehe Comets forced five turnovers,
intercepting Cagle three times (Mann,
Dominique Love and Gallina), plus the fumble
recoveries by Mann and Arnold.
"We came in short-handed with all our
injuries, and lost some morel guys during
the game," Coach Joe Early said. "We were
missing six starters. We overcame quite a
few obsticals. The defense did a great job
with the five turnovers, gave a real shot in
the arm to the offense. We're already
starting to build for next season. We've
already started recruiting for that.
"I'm real proud of the way our team, both
the kids we're losing and the ones who are
coming back, hung in there through
everything that happened to us."
The Comets finished the season 4-6, 2-3 in
the Narional Southern Conference, arguably
the best and deepest in the country. The
Griffins fell to 5-5, 1-4.
Safety Zach Gallina (No. 15), shown on a
solo tackle against nationally No. 3-ranked
Saddleback last week, will play his final
game at Palomar when the Comets visit rival
Grossmont on Saturday afternoon. Gallina is
the Comets' leading tackler. -- Photo by Hugh Cox
Comets close 2016 on road vs. G-House
ELCAJON (11-11-2016) --
Palomar, which has played well on-and-off
this season but never consistently, will
close out its 2016 football schedule on
Saturday when the Comets travel to Grossmont
College's Mashin-Roth Field to take on the
The Comets, who have never been able to put
four good quarters together all year long, will be
trying to close out the season on a positive
note after losing to two of the best teams
in the country the last two weeks, 63-31 to
Fullerton two weeks ago on the road in a
game in which Palomar trailedl by four
points at halftime and 39-27 to Grossmont
last Saturday at Wilson Stadium in
Saddleback has moved up to the No. 3 spot in
the nation this week by the J.C. Grid-Wire,
while Fullerton is sitting at No. 7.
Grossmont lost to the same two teams in
recent weeks, 79-18 to Fullerton and 57-55
The Griffins are already bowl eligible and
are trying to finish the regular season 6-4.
The Comets are trying to close out the
season with a 4-6 record.
The game will match two talented redshirt
freshman quarterbacks, Brad Cagle (El
Capitan) of the Griffins vs. the Comets'
Matt Romero (Oceanside High).
This week's J.C. Grid-Wire national
top 10: 1. East Mississippi (9-1),
2. Arizona Western (10-0), 3. Saddleback
(8-1), 4. Northwest Mississippi (9-1), 5.
Trinity Valley (Texas) (9-1), 6. Garden City
(Kansas) (9-0), 7. Fullerton (8-1), 8.
Riverside City College (8-1), 9. Mt. SAC
(7-2), 10. Butte (7-2)
1-3) at Grossmont (5-4, 1-3, Southern Conference Game
Masin-Roth Field, Grossmont College, El
Nov. 12, 2016
High School /
Knightdale (NC) /
Oceanside / Dixie
Liberty (Bakersfield) / U.S. Navy
Temecula Rancho Christian
Decatur Central (Indianapolis, IN)
Father Lopez (Daytona Beach, FL)
Vista, Cal Poly
Matanzas (Palm Coast, FL)
Bishop’s / New
Mexico State, Cal Poly
Rancho Buena Vista
Knightdale (NC) /
Oceanside / Dixie
TOP PHOTO: LaMont Chaney returns a kickoff
from the 1-yard line to the 24 after
Saddleback's first touchdown on Saturday
night at Wilson Stadium. No. 24 blocking for
him is Christian Prince. DIRECTLY ABOVE:
Robert Ursua catches a 2-point conversion
pass from Matt Romero. The Gauchos, ranked
No. 5 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire,
held off the Comets 39-27. -- Photos by Hugh
Comets' comeback gets short-circuited
ESCONDIDO (11-05-2016) --
Palomar fell behind nationally No. 5-ranked
Saddleback early in the teams' Southwest
Conference game on Saturday night at Wilson
Stadium's Chick Embrey Field, then battled
But a blocked punt out of the end zone
that resulted in a touchdown and a dropped
reception by a wide-open receiver in the end
zone short-circuited the Comets' hopes for a
gigantic upset. And the Gauchos went on to
win the game 39-27.
Trailing 22-7 after one quarter, Palomar
plugged away and pulled to within 4 points
at 25-21 with 7:42 to play in the
third period on Terrell Arnold's 4-yard
touchdown run on a reverse and Matt Romero's
2-point conversion pass to tight end Robert
But that was as close as the Comets would
get as Saddleback (8-1, 3-1 in the Southern
Conference) answered with a 63-yard, 11-play
drive to stretch its lead, and the blocked
punt and TD, which followed a bad snap, and
eventually the dropped pass in the end zone,
Palomar had plenty of things go right on a
chilly night, including a 26-for-49,
3-touchdown, 0-interceptions, 256-yard
passing performance by Romero, 6 receptions
for 85 yards for Ursua, 11 tackles (9 solo)
and a pass break-up by Zach Gallina and 3
punts by Sam Tapia that pinned the Gauchos
at the 10-, 8- and 1-yard line.
The punt that pinned Saddleback at the 1 was
The other Palomar touchdowns came on a
19-yard pass from Romero to LaMont Chaney, a
15-yard pass from Romero to Ursua and a
4-yard pass from Romero to Johnny Arzola.
Issiah Augero caught 7 passes for 37 yards,
Johnny Arzola 5 for 36 yards and Chaney 4
for 28 yards.
Semai Wren returned three kickoffs for
Palomar for 111 yards. Augero had a 43-yard
Christian Prince, coming off an injury, had
7 solo tackles, 1 for a loss, and Hunter
Turner had 7 tackles (5 solo), 1 for a loss.
Michael Moore intercepted a pass.
TOP PHOTO: Matt Romero passes under heavy
pressure from Roy Oto (No. 51) and connects
with Johnny Arzola from 13 yards out for
Palomar's second touchdown. MIDDLE PHOTO:
Offensive tackle Justin Sattelmaier alertly
recovers a Palomar fumble. DIRECTLY ABOVE:
The Comets' Antonio Davidson dumps
Fullerton's Gerald Hulet for a 5-yard loss
in the first quarter. -- PhotoS by Hugh Cox
452 YDS, 4 TDs for Romero in shootout loss
YORBA LINDA (10-29-2016) --
Palomar quarterback Matt Romero, in his best
community college game, was 34-for-67
passing for 452 yards and four touchdowns
against Fullerton College on Saturday at
Nathan Shapell Memorial Stadium.
Romero ignited a first-half surge that saw
the Comets trail the heavily-favored and
J.C. Grid-Wire No. 8 nationally-ranked
Hornets by only 35-31 after two quarters.
But Palomar ran out of gas in a second half
which saw Fullerton go on to win big 63-31
in the teams' Southern Conference match-up.
Oceanside High product Romero connected on
scoring passes of 69 yards to Terrell Arnold
and 13 yards to Johnny Arzola in the first
quarter, then added on touchdowns for 16
yards to Josh Bernard and 52 yards to Lamont
Chaney in the second quarter.
The Comets also scored on a field goal from
23 yards out by Arzola and four Arzola PAT
Palomar rolled up 515 yards in total
offense, again mostly in the first half, as
the two teams combined for 1,182 offensive
yards (667 courtesy of the Hornets, who are
7-1 on the season and were ranked No. 4 in
the nation last week and are currently No.
12 after last week's 30-27 upset loss at
Fullerton entered the game with something to
prove after last week. The Comets battled
the Hornets toe-to-toe throughout the
back-and-fourth first two periods but were
unable to sustain any sort of what had been
considerable momentum coming out after
Arnold caught seven passes for 138 yards for
the game. Channey had five catches for 69
yards, Robert Ursua five catches, Khan Pham
and Syaaiq Lachica four receptions apiece,
Bernard three receptions for 59 yards, and
Arzola and Isiah Augero three catches each.
Defensively, linebacker Hunter Turner
recorded 14 tackles, high for both teams,
eight of the tackles solo. Zach Gallina had
seven tackles, six total, including an
open-field stop at the 4-yard line which
delayed a Fullerton touchdown. Gallina also
intercepted a pass at the 1-yard line.
Nako Te'i contributed six tackles, one for a
loss. Antonio Davidson had five tackles,
including a sack and two tackles for loss.
And Michael Moore broke up two passses.
Fullerton quarterback Jordan Hoy, a freshman
from Rockwell, Texas, accumulated 507 yards
in total offense. He had 358 yards and three
touchdowns passing, and rushed for 149 yards
and two more touchdowns, including an
Josh Bernard shown picking up a first down
last week vs. Golden West, will play a key
role running the ball on Saturday when
Palomar plays Fullerton at Loma Linda High
School's Nathan Shappel Memorial Stadium. --
Photo by Hugh Cox
Banged up Comets draw angry Hornets
YORBA LINDA (10-28-2016) --
A banged up Palomar team draws an angry hive
of Hornets on Saturday as the 2016 community
college heads into the home stretch.
The Comets will visit Fullerton, 6-1 after
an upset loss to Saddleback last week, at
Yorba Linda High School's Nathan Shappel
Memorial Stadium. Kickoff will be at noon.
The Hornets are hardly in a very good mood
after dropping from being ranked No. 4 in
the nation to No. 12 after the
Gauchos scored with 38
seconds left in the game to notch a 30-27
upset victory last Saturday in Mission
For the Comets, multiple players are
injured, including standout linebackers
Christian Prince, who is sidelined for at
least this game, and Brad Dozier, gone for
the season. Both were hurt last week in a
loss to Golden West.
Harry Sio, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound converted
rugby player, returns from the injury list
and will start at defensive tackle for
The Comets will try to even their overall
record at 4-4 and go to 2-1 in the Southern
TOP PHOTO: With just over 8 minutes to play
in the fourth quarter, defensive end Roger Mann
knocked the ball loose from Golden West quarterback
Adam Vance's hand as he tried to pass, caught the
fumble in mid-air and returned it 35 yards for a
Palomar touchdown. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Semaj Wren
returns a Golden West kickoff. He had two returns,
for 50 and 34 yards. -- Photos by Hugh Cox
Too little, too late for Comets at
HUNTINGTON BEACH (10-22-2016) --
A late surge by visiting Palomar fell short
on Saturday afternoon as Golden West,
playing its first-ever football game on
campus on its 50th anniversary, held off the
Comets 35-23 in a National Southern
Palomar, outplayed and outscored for much of
the afternoon, couldn't get into the Golden
West end zone from the 1-yard line on the
final play of the third quarter at the end
of a 11-play, 64-yard drive.
The Comets then scored twice in a 1-minute,
23-second span in the fourth quarter on a
35-yard fumble return by defensive end Roger
Mann and, after Scott Ashby's fumble
recovery, a 7-yard touchdown pass from Matt
Romero to Terrell Arnold.
Palomar, which had trailed by 25 points,
found itself back in the game, down by only
12 with 6:38 to play. The Comets, using
their last two timeouts, forced a punt and
got the ball back with 4:55 remaining at
their own 15-yard line. If they could score
and recover an onside kick, they would be in
a position for an unlikely come-from-behind
Romero quickly took the Comets down to the
Golden West 12, thanks to a 40-yard
Romero-to-Arnold completion. But on the next
play, the Rustlers' Kory Garcia intercepted
a pass intended for LaMont Chaney at the
goal line with 2:29 left. The Rustlers took
over and ran out the clock.
Palomar also scored in the game on Johnny
Arzola's 37-yard field goal with 2:41 left
in the first half, and a 40-yard pass play
from Romero to Sariq Lachica and an Arzola
PAT with 7:17 to play in the third quarter.
The Comets also missed a field goal when
they trailed 7-0.
Romero was 22-for-46 passing for 289 yards
and two touchdowns but was intercepted
twice. He had multiple catches dropped.
Arnold had four receptions for 101 yards,
tight end Robert Ursua nine catches for 92
yards and Lachica three catches for 48
Semaj Wren returned two kickoffs for 84
yards with a long of 50 yards.
Sam Tapia, with another outstanding punting
performance, pinned the Rustlers at the 14-
and 2-yard lines and had a punt that rolled
dead at the 18 called back, breaking
Palomar's season record for punts inside the
20 in the process.
Zach Gallina led the Comets defensively with
10 tackles, two for losses, and forced two
fumbles. Nick Zimmerman (9 tackles),
Christian Prince, Brad Dozier, Wes Finoti,
Mann and Harry Sio combined for 28 tackles,
3 sacks for 18 yards and 7 tackles for loss
for 25 yards.
Palomar (3-4, 1-1 in conference) now goes on
the road to play nationally No. 4-ranked
Fullerton next Saturday at noon at Yorba
Linda High School.
Palomar's Terrell Arnold cross the
goal line on a 20-yard pass play
from Matt Romero with 17 seconds to
play on Saturday night at
Escondido's Wilson Stadium.
-- Photo by
Philip Farry. BELOW: Sam Tapia, who
kicked the winning PAT after
Arnold's TD. Tapia also pinned the
Pirates at the 3-yard line with a
40-yard punt and at the 8-yard line
with a 44-yarder as he averaged 42
yards for his only two punts.
PC scores late to win
ESCONDIDO (10-15-2016) --
Palomar blew a seven-point halftime lead,
fell behind by six points in the second
half, then struck like lightening with 17
seconds left in the game to beat visiting
Orange Coast 28-27 in the teams' Southern
Conference opener Saturday night.
With his team trailing by six points late in
the fourth quarter at Escondido
High's Wilson Stadium, Matt Romero threw a
20-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Arnold to
tie the game. Sam Tapia, coach Joe Early's
extrodinary punter who was pressed into duty
just before the game to double as the
kicker, converted the PAT to bring the
Comets (3-3, 1-0 in conference) home a
Palomar led at the half 21-14 after two Josh
Bernard TD runs of 1 yard and 4 yards,
Michael Moore's 30-yard interception return
for a touchdown and Tapia's first three of
four extra points.
But the Comets began systematically shooting
themselves in the foot in the second half,
which allowed Orange Coast to come back to
lead 27-21. As the clock wound down, the
Comets struck back on a 72-yard play from
their own 6 yard line when Romero completed
a short off-balance pass to ex-Oceanside
High teammate Bernard, who took the ball all
the way to the OCC 22.
A fumble on the ensuing play gave the ball
back to the Pirates at their own 20 with
2:00 showing on the scoreboard clock. But,
using their final timeout along the way, the
Comets forced the Pirates to punt and got
the ball back with 55 seconds to play at
their own 45.
After a roughing-the-passer penalty negated
an interception and two more penalties on an
over-aggressive OCC defense sandwiched around
a 9-yard Romero-to-LaMont Chaney pass play,
Romero led Arnold with a perfectly-thrown
pass at the 2-yard line and he continued
into the end zone for the touchdown.
"We didn't play a very good second half, but
our kids believed in each other and played
hard for each other and we showed a lot of
guts to come back and find a way to win,"
Bernard, the 2015 CIF San Diego Section
Offensive Player of the Year, finished his
best game of the season with 104 yards
rushing on 22 carries, plus 87 yards on two
pass receptions from Romero.
Romero was 15-for-22 passing for 231 yards
and the touchdown pass to Arnold. Chaney,
Arnold and Johnny Augero had 11 catches
between them for 126 yards. And the Comets
got some big-play defensive performances as
Zach Gallina and Christian Prince combined
for 15 tackles, Moore had four key tackles
to go allong with his pick six, a forced
fumgble and a pass breakup, Roger Mann
contributed three tackles for loss for 13
yards out of five unassisted tackles and Wes
Fonoti had a ssack among his five solo
And, once again, one of the Comets' biggest
standouts was Tapia, who pinned the Pirates
at their 3-yard line with a 40-yard punt and
at the 8 with a 44-yarder on his only
attempts of the night.
The team's regular kicker caused a
double-switch for the Palomar special teams
when he phoned Tapia as the Comets were
preparing for their regular pre-game
walk-through prior to boarding the busses
for the short trip from Palomar to Escondido
High, informing Tapia he had something wrong
with his knee and wouldn't be able to kick.
At that point
Tapia had to break the news to the coaches,
then went out and kicked off and made all
four of his PAT attempts. Since Tapia
normally is the holder, Romero stepped in
for Tapia there and the Comets' kicking game
didn't miss a beat.
Now the Comets will prepare for a trip to
Golden West next Saturday afternoon for the
Rustlers' first on-campus game in history,
moving there from their regular home field
at Orange Coast's LeBard Stadium for one
day for the college's 50th anniversary.
Golden West handed Saddleback, ranked fourth
in the nation by both the J.C. Grid-Wire and
JCGridiron.com, its first loss
of the season on Saturday night 20-17.
PC's Gallina, Tapia are Players
of the Week
MARCOS (10-05-2016) -- Palomar's
Zach Gallina (left) has been honored as
Defensive Player of the Week and Sam Tapia
(right) as Special Teams Player of the Week
by the Southern California Football
Association's Southern Conference.
Gallina, a sophomore safety out of Rancho
Buena Vista High School, contributed 13
tackles (9 solo) in the Comets' 34-22
victory at Chaffey in the two teams' first
meeting since Palomar won over the host team
on the same field in the 2001 Southern
California championship game. Gallina also
had a fumble recovery at the Panthers'
13-yard line, an interception at the Palomar
7 that he returned to the 20, a forced
fumble and back-to-back broken up passes in
the end zone that prevented Chaffey
Tapia, the Comets' sophomore punter from
Cathedral Catholic High School, took
controle of the game by depositing 5 punts
inside the 20-yard line (giving him 19
through 5 games). He placed 3 punts inside
the 10, at the 7-, 6- and 3-yard lines.
Punting from inside the 35-yard line on
multiple occasioms, still averaged just
under 40 yards for 9 attempts, including a
56 yarder that knocked a backpedaling
Chaffey return man to the turf on his back
when he finally caught the ball
backing up at his own 19-yard line.
CUCAMONGA (10-01-2016) --
The Comets are back in gear. After
frustrating losses in three of four close
games to open the season, Palomar hit host
Chaffey with everything it had on the way to
a 34-22 nonconference victory on Saturday
night at Grigsby Field.
Coach Joe Early's squad jumped out to a 21-7
halftime lead by scoring on a 2-yard run by
Josh Bernard, a 71-yard pass play from
quarterback Matt Romero to Terrell Arnold
and a 10-yard Romero-to-Robert Ursua pass.
After the Panthers answered with a
third-quarter touchdown to pull to within
seven points, the Comets counterpunched with
two more touchdowns in a 20-second span
early in the the fourth quarter to go back
up by 20 points. LaMont Chaney's 32-yard run
on an end-around play and an interception
and 8-yard TD return by Malavai Taylor put
Palomar in front 34-14 with 10:23 left in
the game and made a later Chaffey touchdown
The Comets mixed the above with a punting
clinic by Sam Tapia, who took over the game
by controlling the teams' field position,
and a spectacular defensive performance by
safety Zach Gallina (13 tackles, 9 solo, a
fumble recovery at the Chaffey 13 after
Roger Mann knocked the ball loose, an
interception at the Palomar 7 and 13-yard
return, a forced fumble and back-to-back
pass break-ups in the end zone).
Tapia deposited five more punts inside the
20-yard line, including chip shots that
pinned the Panthers at the 7-, 6- and 3-yard
lines. He boomed four 40-yard-plus punts,
including a 56-yarder that knocked down the
Panthers' Tarmas Stewart who backpedaled,
backpedaled some more, then crashed
backwards to the turf at his own 19-yard
line when he finally caught the ball.
"This guy gave us field position time after
time all night," Early said, pointing to
Tapia. "That wins games."
The Comets' defense intercepted Chaffey
quarterback Vincent Bowes four times, sacked
him three times and broke up six passes.
Besides Gallina's and Taylor's picks,
Xzavier Crawford intercepted Bowes at the
Palomar 1-yard line and Dominique Love provided
the other interception at the Comets' 13. He
returned the ball out to the 20.
The sacks were provided by Mann (for 10
yards), Nako Te'i (for 6 yards) and
Christian Prince (for 6 yards). Prince also
had two of the pass break-ups (the others
came courtesy of Gallina, Michael Moore,
Crawford and Nate Johnson). And, late in the
game, Prince separated the ball from a
Chaffey receiver, who had just caught a pass
and was starting to head up the Palomar
sideline, with a violent hit. The ball shot
into the air and out-of-bounds, followed by
the Chaffey receiver.
Hunter Turner, Mann, Te'i, Mickey Sega,
Austin Alualu and Prince combined for seven
tackles for loss for 52 yards. Mann had 1.5
tackles for loss for 19 yards and Turner
contributed 2 for 10 yards.
Issiah Augero contributed two kickoff
returns of 35 and 34 yards. Romero was
12-for-24 passing for 167 yards, included
five completions to Ursua. And Patrick Koch,
who kicked a 51-yard field goal last week,
sent his first three kickoffs through the
end zone for touchbacks. Koch did miss an
extra point for the first time this season,
going 4-for-5. Tapia, the holder, took the
blame for the miss.
Palomar gets a bye next week and will open
Southern Conference play the following
Saturday night, Oct. 15, at home at Wilson
Stadium in Escondido against Orange Coast.
kickers Tapia, Koch men's AOTW picks
DIEGO (9-27-2016) -- The Pacific Coast Athletic
Conference has honored two Palomar College football
players, punter Sam Tapia (left) and kicker Patrick
Koch (right), as its Men’s Athletes of the Week.
Tapia, a sophomore from
Cathedral Catholic High School, punted eight times
for a 43.1-yard average in a 31-26 loss to Moorpark.
Tapia’s punts included a
56-yarder that was downed at the Raiders’ 9-yard
line, a 48-yarder, a 46-yarder and a 43-yarder to
the 8. In the game, he had three punts inside the
20-yard line, giving him 14 on the season in four
games, and pinned Moorpark twice inside its 10-yard
Koch, a sophomore out of Del
Norte High School, kicked a 51-yard field goal,
moving him into the top five on Palomar’s all-time
list. He also booted a 23-yard field goal and added
two PAT kicks to remain perfect on the season.
The Comets play football in the SCFA Southern
Conference but the PCAC is Palomar's home
Robert Ursua catches touchdown a pass from Matt
Romero late in the fourth quarter. -- Photo by Charlie
Comets lose by 5 despite 51-yd. Koch FG
ESCONDIDO (9-24-2016) -- Palomar had plenty
of positives Saturday night at Chick Embrey
Field at Wilson Stadium, including a 51-yard
field goal by Patrick Koch, a distance that
moves him to a tie for fifth on the Comets'
But the Comets got off to another slow start
before waking up, which resulted in another
close loss, this one by a 31-26 margin to
On a night Isiah Johnson rushed for 162
yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries for
the visiting Raiders, the Comets had
numerous players contribute along with Koch,
who added another field goal of 23 yards and
tacked on two PATs.
Dominique Love scooped up a Moorpark fumble
and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to
get Palomar on the board after the Raiders
had taken a 10-0 lead.
Quarterback Matt Romero found his range from
the second quarter on and passed for 245
yards on the night, including touchdown
aerials of 3 yards to Johnny Arzola and 9
yards to Robert Ursua late in the fourth
quarter. LaMont Chaney had seven receptions
for 62 yards. Arzola and ZIssiah Augero each
caught four passes, Terrell Arnold had two
catches for 74 yards and Ursua contributed two
catches for 47 yards.
Josh Bernard chipped in 79 yards rushing on
Defensively, Brandon Price (11 tackles, 5 of
them solo) and Christian Prince (10 tackles,
6 solo including 1.5 tackles for loss),
Hunter Turner (9 tackles, 2 for losses),
Malavai Taylor (8 tackles, 6 solo, 1 tackle
for loss and 2 pass break-ups), Nako Tei (5
tackles), Love (5 tackles to go with his
fumble return) and Roger Mann (1 tackle for
loss, 2 quarterback hurries) had strong
And Sam Tapia averaged 43.1 yards for 8
punts, including a 56-yarder to the Moorpark
9-yard line, a 51-yarder, a
48-yarder, a 46-yarder and a 43-yarder to the
8. He deposited a total of three punts inside
the 20-yard line, two of them inside the 10.
Koch also kicked a 2-yard field goal.
The Comets have played four close games,
losing by 6 points, winning by 5, losing by
4 and losing by 5.
Palomar will try to turn that trend around
when the Comets visit Chaffey in their final
non-conference game next Saturday at 6 p.m.,
followed by a bye the following week before
opening National Conference South play.
Josh Bernard scores Palomar's second
touchdown against Cerritos Saturday night on
a 12-yard run with 12:45 left in the
game.No. 7 is LaMont Chaney. -- Photo by
Palomar's comeback falls four
NORWALK (9-17-2016) -- Palomar, trailing by
two touchdowns at the half, saw a
fourth-quarter comeback fall just short on
Saturday night at Falcon Stadium as the
Comets dropped a non-conference football
game to Cerritos 21-17.
Most of Palomar's success in the opening
half came with the Falcons leading 7-0 when
Wes Fonoti blocked a Cerritos field goal
attempt with 5:39 left in the first quarter
and Dominique Love scooped up the ball and
returned it 56 yards for a touchdown.
Patrick Koch kicked the PAT and the teams
were tied 7-7.
Cerritos led 21-7 at halftime after a pair
of Nick Michell touchdown runs in the second
period when the game's momentum changed and
the Comets scored twice in the fourth
quarter, on Josh Bernard's 12-yard touchdown
run and Koch's 45-yard field goal, which
came with 3:32 left in the game.
The Comets outscored the Falcons 10-0 over
the game's final 30 minutes and 53 seconds
and attempted to get the ball back with an
onside kick following the field goal for a
final attempt to win it. But Cerritos
quickly called timeout, negating any
surpise, and this time Koch kicked off deep
to the 5-yard line, from where Landon Jones
returned it 22 yards out to the 27.
Palomar never got the ball back as the
Falcons controlled the ball for the game's
last 3:27, during which time the Comets used
their last two timeouts.
"We did some good things to try to come
back, but we have to play four quarters and,
until we can do that, we're not gong to be
the kind of team we want to be," coach Joe
Palomar's top offensive effort came from
tight end Robert Ursua, who ran over
Cerritos defenders twice as he caught four
passes from Matt Romero for 43 yards.
Along with the blocked field goal and
touchdown return, the Comets got strong
defensive efforts from Malavai Taylor who
intercepted a pass in the end zone and
contributed 6 tackles, Zack Gallina (12
tackles), Christian Prince (9 tackles, 1.5
for a loss) and Brad Dozier, Hunter Turner
and Nako Te'i who had 6 tackles each.
Punter Sam Tapia pinned the Falcons inside
the 20-yard line three times, at the 6, 19
and 14-yard line. He also had kicks of 47
and 43 yards.
Freshman center Josh Pichette (top photo)
and sophomore linebacker Brad Dozier (No.
30, directly above) will play key roles on
offense and defense, respectively, when the
Comets travel to Cerritos for a 6 p.m. game
Saturday. Pichette, a freshman from Tri-City
Christian High School, will be making his
third straight start. Dozier, a sophomore
from San Pasqual, is in his second season as
a starter for the Comets. Dozier is shown
knocking the ball loose from Santa Monica's
Conor McMahan as he breaks up a pass in
Palomar's 35-30 win last Saturday. -- Photos
by Hugh Cox
Comets seek 2nd win in
SAN MARCOS (9-16-2016) -- Palomar will seek
its second straight football win on Saturday
when the Comets travel to Norwalk to face an
old rival, Cerritos College. Kickoff for the
non-conference matchup is slated for 6 p.m.
at Falcon Stadium.
The Comets evened their record at 1-1 last
week, turning back Santa Monica College
35-30 at Escondido's Chick Embrey Field at
Wilson Stadium in a game that wasn't as
close as the final score would indicate.
Palomar was inside the Corsairs' 1-yard line
as the scoreboard clock wound down and let
time run out at the 2 as the game ended.
The Falcons come into the game an
uncharacteristic 0-2 after losing to state
No. 6-ranked Fullerton last week.
"It's a typical Cerritos team," Palomar
coach Joe Early said. "We know they'll be
physical, and they'll be playing with a chip
on their shoulder with a bad taste in their
mouth after starting 0-2."
Early feels the Comets have practiced well
this week. "Guys were flying around. If we
can play that way for four quarters, we'll
have a chance at these guys."
Palomar's Malavai Taylor steps in front of Santa Monica
tight end Sam Murphy to intercept a pass thrown by
Corsairs quarterback Brock Raggio early in the first
quarter Saturday. Taylor returned the pick 29 yards
for the game's first touchdown. MIDDLE PHOTO:
Linebacker Christian Prince (24) causes a fumble at
the end of his 10-yard sack by stripping the ball
from Raggio's grasp. Kahlil Miller recovered for
Santa Monica. DIRECTLY ABOVE: The Comets' Xzavier
Crawford breaks up a pass intended for Santa
Monica's Darius Brown in the end zone, preventing a
touchdown. -- Photos
by Hugh Cox
rebound to turn back
ESCONDIDO (9-10-2016) --
Palomar, bouncing back from an
upset loss the previous week, jumped out to
a three-touchdown lead in the game's first
15 minutes and 5 seconds and went on to pin
a 30-25 non-conference football loss on
visiting Santa Monica on Saturday evening at
Chick Embrey Field at Wilson Stadium.
In a game that alternated big plays and
mistakes by both sides, the Comets were
tough when it counted. The game was more
one-sided than the final score and Palomar
was inside the Santa Monica 1-yard line as
the final seconds ticked down and at the
2-yard line at the final gun.
Malavai Taylor intercepted a pass thrown by
Corsairs quarterback Brock Raggio with 9:51
left in the first quarter and returned it 29
yards for a touchdown to give the Comets a
lead they would never relinquish. Palomar
scored twice more early on, with touchdowns
coming on a 51-yard Matt Romero-to-LaMont
Chaney pass play and Jordan Morris' 7-yard
run. After Patrick Koch's first three PAT
kicks, the Comets led 21-0 five seconds into
the second period.
Big plays by Palomar's defense dominated
much of the action and on offense the Comets
added two more touchdowns on a 14-yard
Romero-to-Robert Ursua pass and Currie
Thomason's 2-yard run.
Punter Sam Tapia had his second straight big
night for Palomar, booming a 57-yarder that
was downed at the Santa Monica 11-yard line
and another kick that pinned the Corsairs at
their own 7-yard line. In all, Tapia
averaged 40.6 yards for five punts and
pinned Santa Monica inside its 20 four
times. He also had a kick that the Corsairs'
Carbell Lewis fair caught at the 21.
Some of the biggest defensive plays:
Linebacker Christian Prince intercepted a
pass at the Palomar 46-yard line. Prince
also caused a fumble by sacking Brock Raggio
for a 10-yard loss and jarring the ball out
of Raggio's grasp. And he scooped up the
ball when Anthony Zuninga blocked a Santa
Monica field goal attempt and returned it 30
yards, half of which came back due to a
Linebacker Brad Dozier made a
touchdown-saving tackle at the Palomar 21 as
he knocked down Santa Monica's Darius Brown
at the end of a 69-yard catch-and-run from
Raggio. The play began with Raggio taking
the snap from center at the Corsairs'
10-yard line. Dozier and Dominique Love
knocked Corsairs tight end Sam Murphy
out-of-bounds at the PC 28 after Murphy
caught a Raggio pass and appeared to have a
shot to squeeze through and reach the end zone.
broke up a pass intended for Santa Monica's
Darius Brown in the end zone, preventing a
broke up a pass.
And, in all, the Comets combined to sack
Santa Monica's quarterbacks six times (1.5
by Dozier) and record 12 tackles for loss
for 56 yards (including multiple times by
Dozier, Roger Mann and Taylor). Dozier broke
up two passes, and Mann contributed three
Back on offense, Romero connected on
20-of-33 pass attempts for 244 yards and two
touchdowns. Chaney, Johnny Arzola and Ursua
combined for 14 receptions for 174 yards.
Issiah Augero came on late in the game run
average 6.9 yards per carry on eight
attempts, Tito Feliciano broke off a 21-yard
gain. And Josh Bernard totaled 144
Coach Joe Early
said he was hardly thrilled with what he
saw, and added that his squad will have to
get better. But he thinks the Comets played
significantly better than they did against
"We needed this," he said.
Palomar will play its first road game next
Saturday at 6 p.m. at another non-conference
TOP PHOTO: Southwestern's
Marquis Williams (No. 2) was credited with a 2-yard
touchdown catch of a Joe Hudson pass when it was
ruled Williams touched the pylon before going out of
bounds. Nako Tei tackles Williams from behind. No.
15 for the Comets is Zach Gallina. MIDDLE PHOTO:
Tight end Robert Ursua dives into the end zone with
a 30-yard touchdown reception from Matt Romero.
DIRECTLY ABOVE: Josh Bernard runs past
Southwestern's Sergio Ayon (49) on a 30-yard pass
play from former Oceanside High School teammate
Romero. -- Photos
by Hugh Cox
Comets' comeback is
too little and too late
ESCONDIDO (9-03-2016) --
sleepwalked through much of Saturday night's
season football opener, then sprung to life
to score three
late touchdowns. But it turned out to be a
case of too little, too late as Southwestern
held on for a 34-28 non-conference victory at Wilson Stadium.
It was the first time a Joe Early team lost
its season opener since he was named head
coach prior to the 2002 season and followed
14 straight opening-game wins. And it was
only the second time the Jaguars have beaten
the Comets since 1988 -- when they were
still known as the Apaches.
Southwestern left little to the imagination
in dominating the game for most of the
evening, and led 34-7 late in the third
quarter after Demetrious Gibbs' 46-yard
But the Comets refused to roll over, scoring
21 unanswered points in the game's final 17
1/2 minutes on three Matt Romero touchdown
passes -- for 30 yards to tight end Robert
Ursua, 76 yards to wide receiver LaMont
Chaney and 10 yards to running back Jordan
Morris with 13 seconds to play following a
successful onside kick.
The game ended after the Romero-to-Morris
touchdown when the Southwestern recovered
Palomar's second straight onside kick
Romero and running back Josh Bernard had
hooked up on a 26-yard pass play early in
the second quarter that gave Palomar its
first touchdown and tied the game at 7-7
after Patrick Koch's first of four PATs.
Linebacker Brad Dozier's interception and
13-yard return down to the 11-yard line set
up the Romero-to-Bernard TD on the next play
-- after a 15-yard penalty on the Comets for
a personal foul.
Even through he was intercepted three times,
Romero finished the evening 23-for-44
passing for 307 yards and four touchdowns
and was only sacked once. Southwestern
quarterback Joe Hudson was 35-for-53 for 318
yards and the interception by Dozier.
Palomar managed 412 yards in total offense
in the loss. Bernard accumulated 268
all-purpose yards for the Comets. He totaled
55 yards rushing on 13 carries, 102 yards on
nine pass receptions and 111 yards on five
Palomar punter Sam Tapia put the ball high
in the air with good hang time throughout
the game as he kept the the Comets in
striking range with a big opening night.
Only one of Tapia's punts were returned --
for a 3-yard loss. The sophomore from
Cathedral Catholic High School pinned the
Jaguars inside the 20-yard line four times,
including a 59-yard punt, just 2 yards short
of landing him to Palomar's all-time
top-eight list, to put the Jaguars at their
10 in the second quarter. Tapia also boomed
a 48-yarder that was downed at the 14-yard
Tapia also had three shorter punts,
two inside the 20, that kept his average
just under 40 yards at 39.4 for seven
attempts. He narrowly missed a fifth punt
inside the 20, a 43-yarder that was downed
at the 21-yard line.
Defensively, Zach Gallina led the Comets
with 11 tackles. Michael Prayer had 8
tackles (5 unassisted), Wes Fonoti 7 tackles
(5 unassisted, 1 for a loss), Malavai Taylor
7 tackles, Bryce Willette 6, Dozier 5
tackles (4 unassisted, 1 for a loss) and
Roger Mann 5 tackles (1 for a loss). Mann
also contributed three quarterback hurries.