The 24th annual Fortuna Bowl capped off Homecoming Weekend at California Baptist University as four Fortuna championship hopefuls dueled under the lights on the Front Lawn Nov. 4, where two underdogs took home the crown.
The women’s game kicked off the night in which six-time Fortuna Bowl champions, the Bus Drivers, took on the Bombshell, a fresh face in the league. The Bus Drivers, who were favored to win their seventh Fortuna Bowl title, were shocked by a force they may not have expected. The Bombshell were quick on their feet and steady on defense, putting up a fight against the reigning champion.
The game reached halftime and the teams remained scoreless. Tired and sore, the teams were ready to storm back into battle. Sweat was streaming and intensity was rising, when Tayler Lanning, junior marketing major and quarterback for Bombshell, threw a rocket of a pass to Monica Overton, freshman applied theology major and wide receiver, to score the first and only touchdown of the game. Time was running out and both teams met on the 10-yard line with the ball in the Bus Drivers’ possession.
With both teams out of timeouts and energy levels at an all-time high, time was of the essence as the Bus Drivers were looking to tie the game. Lined up and ready, Bombshell held a wall of a defensive line, and the Bus Drivers could not break through. On the fourth and final down of the game, the teams met again, but this time the whistles were blown, ending the game 6-0.
The crowd erupted and Bombshell filled the field with celebration. The new Fortuna champions were crowned and Overton was awarded game MVP. Lanning said she and the rest of Bombshell were excited about the win.
“From the beginning we had this mindset that we want to glorify God in playing on and off the field,” Lanning said. “We give this to him because we never dreamed we could get here. This is awesome.”
Both teams finished the regular season with a 7-2 record overall.
The men’s game had a different atmosphere. Fruit of the Boom went head-to-head with Goon Squad. Like the Bus Drivers, Fruit of the Boom made an appearance in last year’s Fortuna Bowl but fell to the Webelos 8-0. This year, Fruit of the Boom was determined to redeem themselves from last year’s loss, but could not match the force of the powerful Goon Squad.
Both teams were on the field ready to give their all, and the undefeated Fruit of the Boom was ready to claim a win over Goon Squad for the second time this season. Goon Squad, however, would not let the game get away that easy. At the end of the first half, both teams remained scoreless.
The beginning of the second half called for strong defensive lines from both sides. Plays were back and forth but neither team could convert. As time dwindled, a double injury occurred on the field. Brandon McCormick, junior kinesiology major and wide receiver for Fruit of the Boom, and Aaron Castillo, senior healthcare administration major and wide receiver and linebacker for Goon Squad, collided with each another. The drama unfolded as the whistle to signal the end of regulation sounded.
The game headed into overtime and Goon Squad took the first lead of the night with the score of 6-0. Fruit of the Boom immediately responded with their own touchdown and the score was tied up. The game would go onto three additional overtime periods before the annual fireworks show interrupted play.
Going into the fifth overtime, 12-12, Goon Squad had possession and Castillo scored a touchdown. It was Fruit of the Boom’s turn to match the 18-12 score, but the Goon Squad defense was too strong. The team claimed their first Fortuna Bowl title and Castillo was named MVP.
“We had determination,” Castillo said. “We gave a hundred percent and didn’t give up. They beat us the first time and we fought harder this time. We got them when it counted.”