In the first game ever played at Golden West College, the Rustlers came up with a solid 35-23 victory over Palomar Saturday afternoon.
Coming off a last-second victory last week, Golden West made a statement early with great play on defense. Cornerback Kory Garcia intercepted Palomar quarterback Matt Romero and took it 37 yards to the house to start the scoring. Garcia intercepted Romero again towards the end of the fourth quarter that allowed the Rustlers to run out the clock. What ultimately made the biggest difference defensively was the 8 broken up passes, 7 of which from the front seven. Trevin Kahunanui, Joseph Inda and Tyler Vaimaona had 2 broken up passes each and Jaime Diaz tipped a pass as well. Vaimaona was all over the place recording a sack and a tackle for loss as well.
Since the opening game, the Rustlers' offense has been a little quiet, but that was not the case today. Quarterback Adam Vance and wide receiver Zimari Manning connected for 2 touchdowns of 21 and 22 yards. Vance finished the game going 16-23 with 250 yards, including an 81-yard bomb to Gabriel Ford to set up Vance's 1-yard sneak touchdown. Ford was a big-time contributor on the ground having his best performance since week 1. He rushed for 116 yards on only 14 carries, including a 65-yard scoring run in the middle of the third quarter.
Even though the game looked out of reach after the sneak play, Palomar did mount a small comeback to make things interesting. It started when linebacker Roger Mann stripped Vance of the ball and took it to the end zone for 35 yards. An unsportsmanlike penalty pushed the kickoff to the 20-yard line, but it did not matter as returner Desmond Bowen fumbled the ball and Palomar recovered it in Golden West territory. Romero took advantage and tossed a 7-yard touchdown to put Palomar down by two scores. Romero led the Comets to the 12-yard line on the next drive, but Garcia picked him off and the game was over.
Next Saturday, Oct. 29, is the annual Battle for the Bell against rival Orange Coast. It is an away game at LeBard Stadium starting at 6 p.m.