“I don’t know what happened. We played like our Wednesday practice, which was pretty bad, in the first half,” Early said. We came out after halftime way more motivated, won the second half but it didn’t make any difference because we lost the game.”
Orange Coast (1-4 coming in) let the air out of the ball in the second half, taking the full 40 seconds between plays, and held on to upset the Comets (4-1 coming in) by a final score of 28-20. Matt Romero connected on 27-of-48 pass attempts for 322 yards and touchdown passes of 13 and 28 yards to Nate Johnson, both in the second half. But it was too little, too late on a weekend when upsets were the order of the day in college football. Tyler Vargas hit on field goals of 26 yards in the first half and 40 yards in the second half and tacked on two PAT kicks. But the Comets came up short.
Johnson finished the night with five receptions for 65 yards and the two TDs. Marquis Williams caught five balls for 68 yards and Rashad Harper had seven receptions for 61 yards.
Also on the bright side for Palomar: Punter Tyson Dyer averaged 41.0 yards for six attempts with a long of 56 yards. The Comets’ made a series of stops, led by Jake Ambrose with 9 tackles (5 solo), inclujding a tackle for loss and broke up a pass. Devante Woods (8 tackles, 7 solo, 3 break-ups), Maxwell Scott (6 tackles, all solo, 2 ackles for loss, a forced fumble and a break-up), Danny Wood (6 tackles, 5 solo, fumble recovery, break-up), Rayshaun Herring (6 tackles, all solo) and Malu Malotomau (8-yard sack) also contributed heavily defensively.
But the Pirates were able to run the clock with a series of late first downs, during which time the Comets used their three second-half timeouts, to hold on for the upset.
Palomar will try to even its Southern Conference record at 1-1 and go 5-2 on the season, becoming bowl eligible, when the Comets host Golden West next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Escondido High School’s Chick Embrey Field at Wilson Stadium. Then, the following Saturday, Palomar will play its only afternoon game, hosting defending national champion Fullerton, a 78-9 winner over host Grossmont in its conference opener on Saturday afternoon. The Hornets are ranked No. 1 nationally by both the J.C. Grid-Wire / JC Football.com and JC Gridiron.com.