Brian Lewis has the highlights from the Conference opener against Grossmont at Cougar Stadium on Saturday. Photographed by Cory Rubin and Chris Ceman, edited by Brian Lewis.
Valencia – The College of the Canyons football team found a weak link in its armor when the defense came back down to earth in the conference opener against the Grossmont Griffins Saturday night at Cougar Stadium.
The defense surrendered the most yards and points thus far this season in a 36-18 loss to the Griffins. “It was the first time defensively that we didn’t form up on all of our tackles,” said head coach Garett Tujague. “Again, that might be because we were on the field for forty minutes.”
Grossmont (4-1) struck first midway through the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Ryan Woods hit Alex McLeland on play action in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
COC (3-2) had an answer to the Griffins touchdown, Ross Bacon returned the kick 63 yards to the Grossmont 31 yard line. Quarterback Justin Arias hooked up with Cameron Bailey for the 31-yard touchdown pass just 19 seconds after the Griffins score.
The offense wouldn’t be heard from again after that score until it was too late. The defense held their own early stopping the Griffins on fourth down and inches inside the 1 yard line. Stuffing Woods on an attempted quarterback sneak. The offense didn’t help the defense by turning the ball right back over to Grossmont inside the 5 on a fumble by Emanuel Osuchukwu. Woods followed that turnover with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Alex McLeland for their second hook of the game for a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
Grossmont put one more score up before the end of the first half on a 51-yard touchdown run from Davis Fluker. For the first time this season the defense couldn’t wrap up tackles allowing 222 yards rushing and 212 yards in the air. Grossmont had a 23-10 lead going into the locker room at the half.
The Cougars came out of the locker room flat as Grossmont continued to have their way with them. Grossmonts Darrin Alix had a 34-yard touchdown scamper early in the third and Davis Fluker added a 1-yard score, his second of the game, to put the Griffins up 36-10 in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore running back Ryan Zirbel provided a little spark to a flat offense with six minutes left in the game with 70 yards in just 2 carries.
“I just kept playing, I never give up,” said Zirbel. “My legs started to get heavy buy I will never give up.”
Zirbels 2 carries set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Justin Morales to Chris Rivas. It was the Canyon graduate’s fifth touchdown catch in three games.
For the third straight week the Cougars used three quarterbacks, Justin Arias, Chris Rini, and Justin Morales. Arias was pulled at half time, he struggled for his second consecutive week completing 6 of his 16 passes for 71 yards and 1 touchdown. Arias ran for just 10 yards on 11 carries with a fumble. Morales was 3-4 for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Tujague said for now no changes will be made at quarterback.