College of San Mateo could smell victory with just over a minute reaming in in Saturday’s California Community College Athletic Association state football title game at Sacramento City College’s Hughes Stadium Saturday afternoon. CSM had possession and a 12-9 lead over defending state champion Fullerton College. But the tide turned on an ensuing 59-yard punt return by Fullerton ace Justin Manyweather, who was stopped practically on the goal line by CSM’s Damari Davis.

The next play, a 1-foot dive over the top by running back Gerald Hulett, gave Fullerton the lead at 16-12 with 47 seconds left — and that was the game-winning score.

CSM went nowhere on its short final possession, despite a dramatic extra chance. Fullerton was called for roughing the passer on San Mateo’s apparently game-ending play on fourth down from its own 24 with 4 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs, therefore, got an untimed down from their own 39 that ended with a sack by Hornets defensive end Joey Noble.

San Mateo had taken the 12-9 lead with 6:27 left in the game on a spectacular first play (following a punt) hook-up between all-Bay 6 conference receivers Jared “Line” Latu and Rajae Johnson. Latu took a handoff from quarterback Miles Kendrick and maneuvered around to the right side before hitting CSM All-America receiver Johnson in stride at the 30. Johnson waltzed into the end zone to complete a 63-yard scoring play. (They each had seven receptions in the game and San Mateo High grad Latu was voted the offensive player of the game.)

The Bulldogs ended with the winningest record, 11-2, in their 96 seasons of football — but still couldn’t grab their first official state championship. Retiring CSM head coach Larry Owens finished with a 21-year record of 130 wins and 91 losses.

Fullerton took its third official state crown and completed a perfect 13-0 season, adding to its now national-leading 19-game win streak – and is also expected to claim a repeat national (ratings) title.

It was the 50th anniversary of the first official state championship game, won by Fullerton in 1967. San Mateo had appeared in – and hosted – a previous state title game in 2009, losing 7-6 to Mt. San Antonio College.

The match-up of the state’s top two scoring teams was a defensive battle. “Our coaches did a great job with the defense,” said Owens. “But we didn’t do enough offensively. Owens pointed to defensive coach Tim Tulloch, who “did a great job of game planning, putting guys in the right positions.”

San Mateo had the game rushing advantage by two yards, 127-125. Fullerton topped the passing charts, 218-186, and therefore the total offense, 343-313.

Player of the Game Awards

  • Bob Stangel Defensive Player of the Game: CSM linebacker Dorrzel Hicks (10 tackles, 3 for loss, interception, QB hurry)
  • Offensive Player of the Game: CSM wide receiver Jared “Line” Latu (57 yards on 7 receptions, 13 yards on 4 rushes, 1-for-1 passing for a 63-yard TD).
  • MVP: Fullerton linebacker Cody Darrow (15 tackles including a sack)