It was a courageous performance in a game that built slowly but had plenty of drama in the final stages. Couey left the game early in the third quarter when he was hit near the sideline at the end of a run and missed a couple of series, but returned to throw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including a 33-yard go-ahead score with 35 seconds left in regulation time.
But Canyons responded with a clutch performance of its own, driving for the winning score to send the game to overtime. Ryan Kasdorf threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Tim White as the clock went to zeroes, setting off a spirited celebration on the Cougar sideline. The game officials determined that it was too spirited, and flagged Canyons for unsportsmanlike conduct, making the extra point into a 35-yard kick attempt. However, Neil Franklin came through, kicking the extra point and sending the game to overtime tied at 19.
Canyons got the ball first in overtime, but gained zero yards on three plays and had to try a field goal. Franklin's 42-yard attempt was low, and Golden West's Dupree Roberts-Jordan got a hand on the ball, keeping the score tied at 19. Five plays later, Couey scored on a quarterback sneak to cap a quick drive and win the game for the Rustlers.
All that action was in stark contrast to the early stages of the game, which rather resembled a preseason NFL game. The first half saw four possessions for Golden West and three for Canyons, and no touchdowns. Peter Marquez kicked a 39-yard field goal 4:40 into the game to give Golden West a 3-0 lead. Franklin answered with a 30-yard field goal just less than five minutes later to tie the score 3-3. Canyons took a 6-3 lead when Franklin booted his second field goal, a 21-yarder early in the second quarter, after White had gotten the Cougars into scoring position with a 32-yard catch. That was the longest play from scrimmage for either team in the first half.
The second half began much the same way with Canyons taking the kickoff, driving to the 50 and then punting the ball away. But then there was a veritable flurry of activity. Two plays later, Couey was injured and had to leave the game with his team facing 3rd and 9. And on the next play his replacement, Nolan Tippy, was sacked by COC's Justyn Eddins, forcing a punt.
On the punt play, Canyons' Jake Woolley broke through along the right side of the line and blocked Hector Solias' attempt. Omari Williams picked up the bouncing ball around the 5 yard-line and carried it in for the touchdown, giving Canyons a 12-3 lead 2:20 into the second half.
That 9-point lead didn't stay that large for long, however, thanks to another blocked kick. On the extra point try, Golden West's Seth Roman blocked Franklin's kick attempt, and the Rustlers' Malcolm Smith picked up the loose ball. He managed to outrun the COC defense down the right sideline to give the Rustlers two points and make it a rather unlikely score of 12-5.
After missing two series, Couey re-entered the game with 1:24 left in the third quarter and led Golden West to the tying score. Two fourth-down conversions, including a fake punt play on which up-man Roland Blackiston threw a 10-yard pass to Harley Shoffner for one first down, kept the drive alive. And Couey finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown toss to Ryan Watson in the right corner of the end zone with 12:40 left in the fourth quarter.
Neither team scored again until the final minute of regulation time. Golden West converted a fourth-down play moments before the go-ahead touchdown when Watson drew a pass interference penalty after getting open down the middle of the field. Then on the next play he hauled in Couey's 33-yard touchdown pass, which was just the start of a dramatic finish.
Couey finished 21 of 40 passing for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he also rushed 5 times for 13 yards and the winning score. Watson had 9 catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Roberts-Jordan was a visible presence all night on the defensive line, and he not only had two quarterback sacks but blocked the field goal attempt in overtime.
For Canyons, Kasdorf completed 13 of 23 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Ben Longshore played a couple of series and completed 5 of 10 passes for 67 yards. White led Canyons receivers with 98 yards on 4 catches, including the game-tying score as the clock went to zeroes. Woolley led the defense, not only blocking the punt but also registering a quarterback sack.
Next week, Golden West travels to LA Harbor while Canyons hosts perennial power Saddleback, which suffered a tough 51-48 loss to defending SoCal champ Mt. SAC in its opener. Game time for COC vs. Saddleback it 7 pm and JCFootball.com will be there.
Golden West Rustlers 25, Canyons Cougars 19
Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 7 pm - Cougar Stadium (COC) - Santa Clarita
GW - FG Marquez 39 yds 10:20 (3-0)
C - FG Franklin 30 yds 5:42 (3-3)
C - FG Franklin 21 yds 13:07 (3-6)
C - Williams 5 yd return of blocked punt (kick blocked) 11:23 (3-12)
GW - Smith return of blocked conversion attempt 11:23 (5-12)
GW - Watson 1 yd pass from Couey (Marquez kick) 12:40 (12-12)
GW - Watson 33 yd pass from Couey (Marquez kick) 0:35 (19-12)
C - White 28 yd pass from Kasdorf (Franklin kick) 0:00 (19-19)
GW - Couey 1 yd run (no conversion try) (25-19)
First Downs: Canyons 18 (6 rush, 10 pass, 2 penalty), Golden West 15 (4 rush, 7 pass, 4 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Canyons 41-95, Golden West 28-37
Passing Yds: Canyons 239, Golden West 231
Comp-Att-Int: Canyons 19-34-0, Golden West 24-44-1
Return Yds: Canyons 152, Golden West 57
Sacks-Yds: Canyons 3-16, Golden West 3-12
Fumbles-Lost: Canyons 4-1, Golden West 1-0
Penalties-Yds: Canyons 13-145, Golden West 11-71
Time of Possession: Canyons 29:17, Golden West 10:43
Rushing: C 7-Kasdorf 12-34, 28-D.Phillips 11-20, 16-Graves 4-12, 31-Woodward-Johnson 5-8, 9-Longshore 2-7, 58-Folaumoeloa 1-6, 26-Arnett 3-5, 5-Cook 2-3, 23-Washington 1-0; GW 33-Moananu 16-51, 4-Couey 5-13, 28-A.Brown 2-4, 5-Manuel 2-0, 15-Tippy 2-(-8), 82-Solias 1-(-21)
Passing: C 7-Kasdorf 13-23-0-159, 1 TD; 9-Longshore 5-10-0-67; 5-Cook 1-1-0-13;
GW 4-Couey 21-40-1-202, 2 TDs; 15-Tippy 2-3-0-19; 35-Blackiston 1-1-0-10
Receiving: C 16-Graves 5-56, 6-White 4-98, 24-Nielson 2-24, 21-Drozdowski 2-23, 86-Mandic 2-17, 88-Vear 1-12, 2-Szymanski 1-6, 23-Washington 1-0, 26-Arnett 1-0; GW 2-Watson 9-84, 19-Sanchez 3-38, 6-Taylor 3-17, 5-Manuel 2-23, 21-Lewis 2-21, 11-Brown 2-11, 18-Luton 1-13, 24-Shoffner 1-10, 89-Montes 1-10
Sacks-Yds: C 34-Pyles 1-8, 49-Woolley 1-4, 55-Eddins 1-4; GW 44-Roberts-Jordan 2-3, 77-Ianu 1-9
Interceptions-Ret Yds: C 12-Semo 1-0; GW none
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: C none; GW 24-Shoffner 1-0
Punters: C 66-Wikler 2-36.5 avg; GW 82-Solias 4-26.3 avg + 1 blk
Kick Returns: C 16-Graves 2-78, 6-White 1-37, 28-D.Phillips 1-18; GW 5-Manuel 1-25
Punt Returns: C 49-Woolley 1-14, 42-Williams 0-5; GW 22-Hays 1-32
Missed FG: C 68-Franklin 42 yds (blocked); GW 81-Marquez 38 yds (wide right/low)
Notes: Season opener for both teams; Golden West was ranked #8 in South and Canyons was ranked #17 in South in preseason poll. Kasdorf and Couey started at QB. Couey left with an apparent knee injury in 3rd qtr (but returned later, limping noticeably). Woolley blocked the punt; Williams returned it for the TD. On the conversion 10-Roman blocked the kick and Smith returned it for the 2-points. GW's game-tying TD drive was helped by two 4th Down conversions including the fake punt play on which Blackiston threw to Shoffner for a 1st down. COC was flagged for celebration on White's TD at the final buzzer but Franklin made the 35-yd XPA to tie the score. COC went first in OT, gained no yds and had Franklin's FGA blocked by Roberts-Jordan; GW scored on its first series moments later to win it. This was the first-ever meeting between these two teams.