It was a case of the statistics largely favoring the host Cougars, who racked up over 500 yards of offense and saw quarterback Chris Rini recover from a nightmare outing last week against El Camino to have a very productive game. But the big plays and the turnovers favored Hancock, and the Bulldogs took advantage of that and El Camino's loss at Cerritos to move into sole possession of the rugged National Division's Northern Conference.
Much of the first half had an NFL feel to the game, which featured long scoring drives, no turnovers and just two penalties over the first 25 minutes. Each team scored three touchdowns in the first half, and the only difference was that Hancock misfired on two extra point tries, allowing Canyons a 21-19 lead at the break.
After forcing a Canyons punt on the first possession of the game, Hancock drove 46 yards on 5 plays, taking a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Cameron Artis-Payne just 3:18 into the game. Canyons answered with an 11-play, 79-yard drive, with Matt Bowen scoring on a 2-yard run to make it 7-7 midway through the quarter. Hancock answered that long drive with a 9-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jeffries to fullback Coleman McArthur with 2:10 left in the quarter that made it 13-7.
Canyons went in front on the first play of the second quarter when Louis Gipson made a nifty one-handed catch of a 9-yard touchdown pass from Rini to cap a 6-play, 68-yard drive, and the extra point gave COC a 14-13 lead. Hancock's next drive took 12 plays and covered 51 yards, but the kicking game again came into play when Jared Miller's 27-yard field goal try was wide right. Canyons then put together a 9-play, 80-yard drive that saw Bowen score his second touchdown of the night on another 2-yard scoring run to make it 21-13 with 5:31 left in the half.
Hancock pulled closer on the first big play of the game with just under two minutes left in the first half. Cameron Rogers took a short pass from Jeffries along the left sideline and burst through the Canyons defense for a 75-yard touchdown pass that made it 21-19 with 1:50 left in the half. But the extra point again went awry, leaving the host Cougars with a two-point lead at the break.
Canyons got a 32-yard field goal from Jeff Flores midway through the third quarter to make it 24-19. But then Hancock got a break when COC return man Chris Rivas muffed a punt at his own 11 yard-line. Masson Blow recovered for Hancock at the 7, and three plays later Jeffries threw his third touchdown pass of the night, a 5-yarder to Shane Henderson that gave the Bulldogs the lead. Then Jeffries threw a pass to Henderson for a two-point conversion that made it 27-24 with 3:46 left in the third quarter.
Canyons put together a 12-play, 67-yard drive and tied the game when Flores booted his second field goal of the night from 21 yards out with 13:13 left in the game. The Cougars had driven to the Hancock 1yard-line on the drive, but a 2-yard loss on a run and an imcomplete pass had stopped the drive, forcing the Cougars to settle for the game-tying field goal.
And that tie score lasted just 17 seconds, the amount of time it took for Collins to catch the ensuing kickoff at his own 4, elude the four Cougar defenders who seemingly had him surrounded, and speed down the right side of the field for a 96-yard touchdown return that proved to be the difference in the game.
Still, Canyons had plenty of time to pull even, and they came tantalizingly close to doing just that. The Cougars needed just six plays to reach the Hancock 10 yard-line, and two plays later Rini threw a flip pass to Keiotey Stenhouse on the far side of the field. Stenhouse seemed headed for the end zone, or at least near it, when suddenly the ball came loose. When the pile was untangled, Hancock's Bennie Garrett was in possession at the AHC 1 yard-line.
Artis-Payne gave AHC some breathing room with a 47-yard run that got the ball across midfield, but the Bulldogs had to punt the ball away with 6:37 left, plenty of time for the Cougars to drive for the tying score. Canyons got as far as the Hancock 43, but turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass on 4th down with 3:33 left.
After that, AHC needed only to run out the clock to hold on for the win, and they were able to do just that. Two five-yard rushes, one by Artis-Payne and one by Andy Bridge, gained a first down at the COC 47. Moments later, AHC faced a 3rd and 7, but a pass interference penalty against the Cougars on 3rd down gave Hancock the first down, and the Bulldogs ran out the clock to secure the win.
For Hancock, Jeffries completed 8 of 18 passes for 165 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Artis-Payne rushed for 133 yards on 23 carries, and Bridge had 83 yards on 17 carries. Three different receivers caught touchdown passes. Collins had the game-winning score on the kickoff return. And perhaps most importantly, the Bulldogs had no turnovers, not even a fumble, for the game.
For Canyons, Rini had a very good game, completing 19 of 27 passes for 272 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, rebounding nicely from his 4-for-17 nightmare in the blowout loss to El Camino. Bowen, making his first start of the year, had a huge night with 180 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Jerrel Jordan had a big game with 5 catches for 96 yards receiving.
The win improves Hancock's conference record to 2-0, and the Bulldogs are now a game ahead of El Camino and Cerritos in the National-North. Canyons falls to 0-2 and will now travel to Norwalk to take on Cerritos next week.
Allan Hancock Bulldogs 34
Canyons Cougars 27
Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 7 pm - Cougar Stadium, Santa Clarita
National Division - North Conference
AH - Artis-Payne 4 yd run (Miller kick) 11:42 (7-0)
C - Bowen 2 yd run (Flores kick) 7:20 (7-7)
AH - McArthur 21 yd pass from Jeffries (kick wide right) 2:10 (13-7)
C - Gipson 9 yd pass from Rini (Flores kick) 14:55 (13-14)
C - Bowen 2 yd run (Flores kick) 5:31 (13-21)
AH - Rogers 75 yd pass from Jeffries (kick wide left) 1:50 (19-21)
C - FG Flores 32 yds 7:34 (19-24)
AH - Henderson 5 yd pass from Jeffries (Henderson pass from Jeffries) 3:46 (27-24)
C - FG Flores 21 yds 13:13 (27-27)
AH - Collins 96 yd kickoff return (Miller kick) 12:56 (34-27)
First Downs: Canyons 26 (14 rush, 12 pass), Allan Hancock 20 (13 rush, 4 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Canyons 45-238, Allan Hancock 46-228
Passing Yds: Canyons 272, Allan Hancock 165
Comp-Att-Int: Canyons 19-27-0, Allan Hancock 8-18-0
Return Yds: Canyons 119, Allan Hancock 197
Sacks-Yds: Canyons 0-0, Allan Hancock 1-6
Fumbles-Lost: Canyons 3-3, Allan Hancock 0-0
Penalties-Yds: Canyons 6-60, Allan Hancock 7-30
Time of Possession: Canyons 28:55, Allan Hancock 31:05
Rushing: C 15-Bowen 27-180, 5-Rini 9-35, 12-Schechter 1-11, 14-Szymanski 2-11, 2-Jordan 3-5, 18-Stenhouse 2-(-2), team 1-(-2); AH 25-Artis-Payne 23-133, 38-Bridge 17-83, 5-Jeffries 2-13, 35-McArthur 1-2, team 3-(-3)
Passing: C 5-Rini 19-27-0-272, 1 TD; AH 5-Jeffries 8-18-0-165, 3 TDs
Receiving: C 2-Jordan 5-96, 81-Gipson 5-52, 14-Szymanski 2-46, 87-Neilson 2-26, 18-Stenhouse 2-18, 1-Madero 2-15, 86-Nickerson 1-19; AH 1-Henderson 3-45, 87-Rogers 2-86, 35-McArthur 2-29, 25-Artis-Payne 1-5
Interceptions-Ret Yds: none
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: C none; AH 15-Berry 1-9, 2-Garrett 1-0, 19-Blow 1-0
Sacks-Yds: C none; AH 50-Vaitafa 1-6
Punters: C 96-Roth 2-39.5 avg; AH 14-Miller 5-38.8 avg
Kick Returns: C 12-Schechter 4-79, 86-Nickerson 2-44; AH 22-Collins 5-166, 7-Webb 1-20
Punt Returns: C 25-Rivas 1-(-4); AH 7-Webb 1-2
Missed FG: C none; AH 14-Miller 27 yds (wide right)
Notes: Allan Hancock entered ranked t-#5 in South and #18 in the nation and improves to 6-1 overall, 2-0 in National-North. Canyons entered #15 in South and falls to 3-4 overall, 0-2 in National-North. While trailing 34-27 COC drove deep into AHC territory but Stenhouse fumbled and Garrett recovered at the 1 with 10:05 left. COC got the ball back one more time but turned it over on downs at the AHC 43 with 3:33 left. AHC ran out the clock after that. COC still leads the all-time series, 15-8-1.