Canyons (3-0) racked up 447 yards of offense and 23 first downs on the night, but turned the ball over six times and that was nearly enough to allow Santa Ana (1-2) to come into Santa Clarita and pull what would have been one of the biggest upsets of the 2015 season thus far.
Dunn's third touchdown of the night, a 29-yard scamper with 4:36 left in the game, proved to be the difference. His first touchdown run, a 9-yard score in the first quarter, had given COC an early 7-0 lead. And his second, a 19-yard run early in the third quarter, wiped out a 14-7 halftime deficit and tied the score on Canyons' first possession of the second half.
Colton Oshiro – who usually plays safety but also plays quarterback in Canyons' short yardage package – scored on a 2-yard plunge midway through the third quarter to give the Cougars a 20-14 lead. But the extra point try was wide. And that took on added importance when William Hanley scored for Santa Ana less than three minutes later, and Dons' kicker Jonah Mack added the extra point to give Santa Ana a 21-20 lead.
That's where the score stayed until Dunn's third and final touchdown. Before then, Canyons had three chances but lost the ball twice on turnovers. Patrick Campbell recovered a Dunn fumble in the final minute of the third quarter and Levi Stillman intercepted a Dunn pass early in the fourth quarter, pushing Canyons' turnover total to six. The Cougars also punted the ball away with 9:47 left.
But the Canyons defense forced Santa Ana to punt each time, three of the 12 punts on the night for the Dons. Remarkably, Santa Ana used four different punters in the first half, though tailback Hanley was one of them and his quick-kicks were especially effective as he averaged 42 yards per try.
Santa Ana had one last chance to tie the game after Dunn's final touchdown run, and reached the Cougar 35, but turned the ball over on downs with 35 seconds to play. Canyons' linebacker Anthony Costleigh made a huge play on third down and three, throwing Santa Ana running back Taj Ashmeade for a 2-yard loss. Then on fourth down Jason Habash was pressured as he threw his final pass of the night, which landed on the turf far away from any Santa Ana receivers.
Early on, it looked like it would be an easy night for the home team. Santa Ana received the opening kickoff, but the Canyons defense forced a quick three-and-out. Then the Cougars marched down the field and scored. On the next play from scrimmage, Hanley was stripped of the ball by Will Pretty III, and Austin Davenport recovered the fumble for the Cougars at the Santa Ana 28.
But the Cougars came away empty, turning the ball over on downs. And then Santa Ana scored the next two touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead at the half. Labash threw a 9-yard scoring pass to Marion Pascal early in the second quarter and a 26-yard screen pass to Hanley about five minutes later to give Santa Ana a lead at intermission.
For Canyons, Dunn completed 26 of 43 passes for 260 yards and 2 interceptions. He also led all rushers with 97 yards on 14 carries and scored three touchdowns. Kenny Torrence carried the ball 13 times for 78 yards. Vincent Strange led all receivers with 7 catches, good for 69 yards. Conner Byrnes had 6 catches for 89 yards and Nick Jones had 6 catches for 59 yards.
For Santa Ana, Habash completed 14 of 38 passes for 139 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. Hanley carried the ball 15 times for 72 yards and a score, and he also caught the 26-yard touchdown pass.
With the win, Canyons improves to 3-0 for the first time since 2008, when the Cougars went 10-0 during the regular season. COC travels to Pasadena to take on the PCC Lancers next Saturday, and will return home to host Bakersfield on October 3rd at 1 pm.
Canyons Cougars 28, Santa Ana Dons 21
Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 6 pm @ Cougar Stadium, Santa Clarita
C – Dunn 9 yd run (Chadwick kick) 11:02 (7-0)
SA – Marion Pascal 9 yd pass from Habash (Mack kick) 14:02 (7-7)
SA – Hanley 26 yd pass from Habash (Mack kick) 9:00 (14-7)
C – Dunn 19 yd run (Chadwick kick) 12:21 (14-14)
C – Oshiro 2 yd run (kick wide right) 8:09 (20-14)
SA – Hanley 16 yd run (Mack kick) 5:48 (20-21)
C – Dunn 29 yd run (Torrence pass from Dunn) 4:36 (28-21)
First Downs: Canyons 23 (8 rush, 13 pass, 2 penalty), Santa Ana 15 (5 rush, 7 pass, 2 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Canyons 41-187, Santa Ana 37-122
Passing Yds: Canyons 260, Santa Ana 139
Comp-Att-Int: Canyons 26-43-2, Santa Ana 14-38-1
Return Yds: Canyons 111, Santa Ana 82
Sacks-Yds: Canyons 1-2, Santa Ana 1-9
Fumbles-Lost: Canyons 9-4, Santa Ana 1-1
Penalties-Yds: Canyons 5-50, Santa Ana 8-70
Time of Possession: Canyons 31:04, Santa Ana 28:46
Rushing: C 10-Dunn 14-97, 21-Kenny Torrence 13-78, 34-Hamilton 3-6, 13-Williams 3-5, 42-Oshiro 2-4, 35-Hall 2-0, team 4-(-3); SA 8-William Hanley 15-72, 23-Swanigan 8-28, 24-Ashmeade 10-19, 4-Habash 4-3
Passing: C 10-Devon Dunn 26-43-2-260; SA 4-Jason Habash 14-38-1-139, 2 TDs
Receiving: C 3-Strange 7-69, 12-Byrnes 6-89, 81-N.Jones 6-59, 11-Werah 3-27, 21-Torrence 3-12, 7-French 1-4; SA 88-D.Barnett 4-24, 13-Tuason 3-28, 11-Hawkins 2-41, 8-Hanley 1-26, 6-Marion Pascal 1-9, 40-Moreno 1-7, 7-A.Barnett 1-6, 14-Burke 1-(-2)
Interceptions-Ret Yds: C none; SA 14-Alabi 1-0, 22-Stillman 1-0
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: C 48-Davenport 1-0; SA 33-Campbell 1-14, 21-Morris 1-0, 57-Haywood 1-0, 65-Tiliaia 1-0
Sacks: C 94-Taufahema 1-2; SA 35-Nicholson 1-9
Punters: C 31-McKinney 5-40.0 avg; SA 96-Arrellano 5-38.8 avg, 97-Laibach 4-34.5 avg, 8-Hanley 2-42.0 avg, 26-Sanchez 1-34
Kick Returns: C 26-Logan 2-61, 3-Strange 1-33, 6-Brown 1-6; SA 23-Swanigan 2-40, 8-Hanley 1-18
Punt Returns: C 4-Foster 1-10, 3-Strange 1-1; SA 80-M.Williams 1-10
Missed FG: none
Notes: Canyons entered 2-0, ranked #6 in Calif (JCAB) and #13 in the nation (JCFootball.com); Santa Ana entered 1-1. Yes SA used 4 punters, though Hanley's kicks were really quick-kicks. SA's 2nd TD came after Alabi's interception. Canyons now leads the all-time series, 3-2, and is 3-0 for the first time since 2008 when the Cougars went 10-0 in the regular season.