The Cougars look to remain undefeated in conference play when they take on the Cerritos Falcons at Cougar Stadium. Brian Lewis has the highlights. Shot by Tyler Rubin, edited by Brian Lewis.
VALENCIA – A 3-0 start and going undefeated in conference wasn’t meant to be for the College of the Canyons football team. Penalties and late turnovers did the Cougars in, in a 31-24 loss to Cerritos on Saturday night.
With just over a minute left, COC was driving deep into Falcon territory when quarterback Justin Arias found receiver Alex Fagerstrom who proceeded to fumble the ball on the Falcon 16-yard line while trying to fight for extra yardage. Cerritos recovered the fumble and ran the clock out to end the game.
The first half was promising for the Cougars (5-3, 2-1), as Arias led the offense and the defense was stout in holding Cerritos (6-2, 2-1) to just 5 points at the half.
After a safety on a bad snap during a punt gave the Falcons an early 2-0 lead, kicker Everett Goldberg gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead on a 49-yard field goal. His longest of the season.
With 4 minutes left in the first half Arias scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown run. Cougars regained the lead at 9-5 after Goldberg had the point after attempt blocked. Arias led the team in rushing with 64 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Arias also had a stand out game in the air completing 23 of his 36 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns and an interception.
One of his two touchdowns in the air came with just 36 seconds left in the first half as he hooked up with receiver Rickeem Jackson for a 14-yard touchdown. Jackson followed his breakout game with 3 catches for 31 yards and a score. Jackson has a combined 4 touchdowns in 2 weeks.
“He’s changed his attitude,” said Arias. “He comes out and works hard and we’ve started to throw to him more.”
COC went into the locker room at the half with a 16-5 lead, but it was downhill from there. The Cougars came out undisciplined in the second half committing 14 penalties for a 137 yards after having only 5 for 44 yards in the first half.
The Falcons opening drive of the second half was kept alive by three costly penalties; two personal fouls and a pass interference penalty. Cerritos finished that drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Daveon Barner. Cutting the Cougars lead to just 5 at 16-11. Barner had 68 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns.
“Their first drive after half had 45 yards in penalties and you can’t do that,” said head coach Garett Tujague. “You can’t be selfish.”
COC started slow offensively in the second half with a few three and outs and an Arias interception. The Falcons found themselves with a 17-16 lead after a 3-yard touchdown Jaron Hytche. Hytche led the Falcons in rushing with 70 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.
“They didn’t give us a chance to get on the field offensively in the third quarter,” said the disappointed coach. “They did a good job of holding on to the ball and they dinked and dunked and were able to get first downs.”
Cerritos added a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kane Wilson to receiver Lindse Anderson to give the Falcons a 24-16 lead at the end of the third quarter.
After allowing only 122 yards in the first half the Cougar defense gave up 235 yards in the second half for a total of 357 yards. Offensively the Cougars gained 168 yards in the first half to just 93 in the second half for a total of 261 yards.
The Cougars weren’t done yet. With 12:21 remaining in the game Arias hit Ryan Zirbel for a 22-yard touchdown. COC was successful on the two point conversion to tie the game at 24 all. Zirbel gained 45 yards receiving on 4 catches and a touchdown while only rushing for 13 yards on 6 carries.
After the late Falcon touchdown on the 1-yard run by Barner. The Cougars could not hold on to the ball on Fagerstrom’s fumble with just over a minute left.
The Cougars have their final home game of the season this Saturday at 7 pm against Ventura College.