Jason Galvin has the highlights from the home opener against Citrus. Photographed by Cory Rubin and Brian Lewis, edited by Brian Lewis.
VALENCIA-It wasn’t pretty but a win is a win for the College of the Canyons football team as they hold on to beat the Fighting Owls of Citrus Community College 38-24 in the home opener.
The scoring happened early for the Cougars (2-1) as Freshman running back Emanuel Osuchukwu scampered down the right sideline for a 33 yard touchdown run. The Cougars were looking to establish the ground game early in this one after a total of 4 net yards on the ground in a disappointing loss last week to NO. 1 ranked Mt. San Antonio College. Osuchukwu had 46 yards on 3 carries and the Cougars collected 186 total yards on the ground.
Just two minutes later, COC, scored again on a 90 yard touchdown reception from Freshman quarterback Justin Arias to Freshman wide receiver Chris Rivas. The Canyon High product had a career game with 196 yards on 8 catches and 3 scores. The Cougars continued to pile it on early as Freshman running back Joey Garba ran it in from 2 yards out after a blocked punt by Sophomore safety Antwan Smith. Smith continued his solid play as he had 4 tackles, an interception, and the blocked punt.
“It was a good game, third quarter early it got away from us,” said Smith. “We lost focus for a little bit but we got back on track.”
With the score 24-3 COC, Justin Arias led COC on another drive near the end of the half as he took off running for 36 yards of his team leading 61 yards on the ground. That set up a 13 yard touch down reception from Arias to Rivas to give the Cougars the 31-3 lead going into the half.
With a big lead coming out of the locker room the Cougars lost their composure and came out unfocused in the second half as Citrus made a roaring comeback. Citrus Freshman quarterback Blake Loncar found Sophomore wide receiver Roshon Morris for a 22 yard touchdown reception over an outstretched Anthony Drake.
COC still with a comfortable lead at 31-10 until Locar hits BJ Oyefeso in the end zone for a 34 yard touchdown to cut the lead to just 14 points.
COC’s offense would get it going again late in the third quarter as Arias hits Rivas for the six yard touchdown. The third time they hooked up in the game. For the third consecutive game, Arias, had an impressive outing as he threw for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also compiled 61 yards rushing on 7 carries.
“First half I was happy, not much to say we were pretty perfect,” said Arias.
It was up to the defense at this point as they still couldn’t stop Citrus comeback. Loncar added a 1 yard quarterback sneak 4 minutes into the forth quarter to bring the Owls to within 14 points again at 38-24 COC.
COC’s offense would struggle the rest of the game keeping the Owls right in it. The defense stepped up big for the Cougars late in the game as Loncar was intercepted by Freshman Jonathan Hammock out of Canyon High. Another late drive stalled out for Citrus when Antwan Smith picked off Loncar to seal up the win.
“They ran screens all day, they tried to catch us with a screen and go,” said Smith. “I saw it the whole way and I just jumped on top of it.”
The Cougars were out scored 21-7 in the second half with a sloppy second half. They had 156 yards on 17 penalties. Head Coach Garett Tujague was not happy with the penalties and said that they have to be cut down.
“Penalties killed us tonight, anytime you play anyone and you have that many penalties you’re going to keep them in the game,” said Tujague. “We have to clean that up and be more football players then trash talkers.”
For the first time this season Tujague gave all four quarterbacks a chance to play in order to give them experience in case their number is called this season.
“It was to get them experience, make sure that they are ready because there number will be called upon this season,” said Tujague.
The Cougars are on the road next week at East LA for a 6 o’clock game before returning home to play Grossmont on October 2nd at 7 o’clock.