Postgame interviews with head coach Garett Tujague, linebacker Khalil Bass, and safety Justin Cudworth.
Full broadcast to be posted later on this week.
BAKERSFIELD – For the second consecutive week the College of the Canyons football team found themselves in a must win situation. The outcome this week was not what they were looking for as the Bakersfield Renegade take away the Cougars hopes for a National Division, Northern Conference championship and a chance to make the playoffs in a 41-14 stomping on Saturday.
The game started promising for the Cougars as the offense took the opening possession and marched 62 yards down the field only to fail on a field goal attempt of 23 yards. The only bright spot for the offense as they would only gain 227 yards with 4 turnovers.
“It was a critical point, everything was going our favor,” said head coach Garret Tujague. “You cannot make mistakes, you cannot turn the ball over against a good football team.”
The scored stayed at 3-0 Bakersfield until early in the second quarter when quarterback Justin Arias fumbled a handoff attempt to Ryan Zirbel. The fumble set the Renegade up at the COC 19 yard line, they would later score on a 1-yard run by Dean Johnson.
On COC’s very next play from scrimmage Arias was hit while making a throw, the ball found its way into the arms of Bakersfield’s Tyler Dogins who returned the interception back the other way for 25 yards. On two plays the Cougars found themselves down 17-0 with 13:23 left in the first half without the defense being on the field.
“It’s frustrating, but we’re fighters and we’re going to fight till the end,” said COC safety Justin Cudworth. “We just have to stay together and do our job on every play.”
The Cougars couldn’t put anything together on offense the rest of the half which gave the Renegades good field position putting the defense in a difficult spot.
Bakersfield scored two more touchdowns before the end of the half. With 4 minutes left in the game the Renegades scored again on a 4-yard run by Dean Johnson and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Lyle Negron to Brandon Hobdy with 27 seconds left in the first half. Bakersfield had a 31-0 lead at the half. The most points COC had allowed all season in the first half.
The Cougars would finally get on the scoreboard in the second half on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Arias to Mychal Prieto. At that point the Cougars trailed 34-7. Arias finished the game completing 17 of his 36 pass attempts for 194 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions.
The offensive game plan going into the game for COC was to hand the ball off to sophomore running back Ryan Zirbel but they had to abandon that game plan early in the game. Zirbel had 15 carries for 63 yards to lead the team on the ground in that category.
“They (Bakersfield defense) started putting 7,8,9 guys in the box,” said the disappointed coach. “When you do that you have to make a team pay by throwing the ball and we did we loosened them up a little bit but it was a little too late.”
COC scored their final touchdown of the game when sophomore safety Antwan Smith recovered a fumble and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown.
The Cougars missed the playoffs for the second straight year but did qualify for a bowl game. They will head back up to Bakersfield College only this time they will meet Fullerton College in the Golden Empire Bowl at 3 p.m.