The Cougars look to start the season off right against Antelope Valley College. Cory Rubin has the Highlights. Photography by Cory Rubin, Tyler Rubin and Tyler Whiting.
VALENCIA – Back to their winning ways.
After losing three of their last four in 2010 the College of the Canyons football team started 2011 off with a 44-23 victory over Antelope Valley College.
Unlike last year’s dominating 35-7 victory over the Marauders that saw the Cougars score early and often, COC went three and out on their opening drive. COC was forced to punt the ball to AVC but Isaiah Culver fumbles the ball inside his own 15 yard line after being hit by his own player. The Cougars weren’t able to capitalize on the turnover but Jeff Flores hit a 35 yard field goal to give COC an early 3-0 lead.
One of the big question marks coming in to the 2011 season would be the Cougars defense. COC started this season having to replace nine of their eleven defensive starters including six of the front seven but if game one is any indication they may have found the right combination of guys. The Cougars only allowed 35 yards rushing and forced 5 turnovers, forcing two fumbles and picking off three passes.
Later in the first quarter sophomore quarterback Chris Rini hooked up with Michael Brown setting up a first and goal on their own their own two yard line. On the very next play Rini takes the snap from shot gun and dive straight forward for the Cougars first touchdown of 2011. COC leads it 10-0. Rini had 50 yards rushing on 12 carries with one touchdown.
The Cougars defense came up big again in the first as Jake Woolley intercepted former COC quarterback Cameron Coon and returned it all the way back to the AVC one yard line. The Cougars put back in the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run by Ajani Shanks. The Cougars led it 17-0 after the first quarter.
One of the goals for COC coming into the home opener was to get all their quarterbacks involved in this game as Chris Owens took over on the first drive of the second quarter. But the former Florida A&M quarterback was intercepted on his second pass of the game by Al Stanton Jr. who returned it back to the COC 20 yard line. That would set up a 28 yard touchdown pass from Coone to sophomore wide out Kenny Harmon to put the Marauders on the board. The Cougars had a 17-7 lead at the end of the first half.
The Cougars offense kept it going in the second half with an 88 yard drive topped off with a 10-yard touchdown run by Jamie Wilson. The sophomore then scampered into the end zone again in the third quarter from 25 yards out giving COC a 37-15 lead. Wilson led the ground attack with 76 yards on 14 carries with three scores.
“Our running backs know we make a huge impact on the game,” said Wilson. “Our lineman kept getting better on each drive and I ran with them.”
Offensively the Cougars got the job done on the ground and in the air. The Cougars ran the ball for a total of 254 yards and threw the ball for 214 yards with 141 yards coming from Rini.
“We have a really good quarterback who can throw the ball and I think this is the best stable of wide receivers we’ve ever had,” said head coach Garett Tujague. “If we need to run it we’ll run it, if we need to throw it then we’ll throw it.”
The Cougars toughest challenge of the 2011 year will come next week against the defending state champion Mt. San Antonio Mounties. The Mounties one their opening game of the season 51-21 over Victor Valley. The game will be at Cougar Stadium at 7 p.m.