Canyons Sacks Marauders In Opener

C.J. Williams passed for 2 touchdowns and ran for a score in his first college start, and the College of the Canyons registered 11 quarterback sacks as the Cougars downed local rival Antelope Valley, 32-19, Saturday in Santa Clarita in the season opener for both teams.

Williams, who starred at nearby Sylmar HS just last year, opened the scoring with a 9-yard run just two minutes into the game. He later threw scoring passes to Marquise Brown in the first half and LeBronze Allen in the second half, the first of those touchdown tosses giving Canyons a lead it would hold the rest of the game.

And the Cougar defense did the rest, sacking AVC quarterback Blake Shepherd 11 times and scoring a touchdown of its own as a result of one of those sacks. COC's special teams set up another score, blocking a Marauder field goal attempt. And when AVC rallied to draw within 13 points midway through the fourth quarter, scoring twice against Cougar reserves, the first-team defense re-entered with 5:25 left. The result was two more quarterback sacks, an interception and a Cougar victory.

The game started with Canyons' Jerel Hall returning the opening kickoff 35 yards to the 50, and the Cougars needing just 5 plays to take a 7-0 lead on Williams' run. But AVC's Adam Suruy blocked the extra point, keeping the score 6-0. And then the defenses took over. The game's next score came when Antelope Valley's Jad Cheetany snatched the ball from Williams' hands for a sack, fumble recovery and 63-yard touchdown run with 14:02 left in the first half. Mark Berrera's successful extra point kick gave the Marauders a 7-6 lead.

AVC drove to the Canyons 16 late in the half with a chance to take the lead, with Berrera on to try a 33-yard field goal. But COC's Hayden Wright blocked the kick. David Wilder recovered the bouncing ball and sped towards the end zone for an apparent touchdown, only to have the score negated for his having celebrated a bit too much along the way. However, just 5 plays later, Williams threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brown to give the Cougars  12-7 lead at the half.

The Canyons defense extended the lead midway through the third quarter when Dorian Gerald sacked Shepherd in the end zone and knocked the ball loose in the process. Iwuchukwu recovered the fumble in the end zone for the touchdown, extending COC's lead to 19-7. After a Marauder three-and-out, Canyons scored again when Williams threw a short pass to LeBronze Allen that turned into a 48-yard scoring play when he broke through the initial coverage. Despite a missed extra point kick, COC held a 25-7 lead entering the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Louis Eusebi, on for Williams, scored on a 4-yard keeper to push the lead to 32-7 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Antelope Valley got its first offensive touchdown of the night when Travon Willis scored on a 2-yard run with 9:10 left. And on the ensuing kickoff the Marauders tried an onsides kick, with Graeson Vereen recovering the ball near midfield. That led to another AVC touchdown, with Shepherd throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Wayne with 6:39 left. Then COC third-string quarterback Matt Moore fumbled attempting a handoff, and AVC's Robert Robinson recovered, giving AVC a chance to continue its comeback, trailing by just 13 points with 5:25 left.

But then the COC first-string defense, which had been subbed out the previous two series, came back onto the field. The results were: an incomplete pass on first down, a 6-yard sack by Brodie Felkel on second down, a 7-yard sack by Iwuchukwu on third down and an interception by DeAndre Henderson on fourth down, ending any notions of a miraculous Marauder comeback.

Williams completed 11 of 19 passes for 110 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions, and he also ran for 30 yards and a touchdown on 10 rushing attempts. But the real story was the defense with the 11 quarterback sacks – three by Felkel with two each by Gerald, Iwuchukwu and Brandon Shook – plus the fumble recovery touchdown and the blocked field goal.

Shepherd, despite taking quite a pounding, completed 17 of 37 passes for AVC, good for 225 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Donte Ross had a huge night for the Marauders, catching 8 passes for 132 yards and also returning 4 kickoffs for 103 yards. And Cheetany contributed one Marauder touchdown on defense with his snatch-six in the first half.

Canyons will be at home again next Saturday against Orange Coast College, and will be there. Antelope Valley will open its home schedule against San Diego Mesa.

College of the Canyons Cougars  32
Antelope Valley Marauders  19

Saturday, September 12, 2015 - 6 pm @ Cougar Stadium, Santa Clarita

1st Quarter:
C – Williams 9 yd run (kick blocked) 13:00 (6-0)

2nd Quarter:  
AV – Cheetany 63 yd fumble return (Berrera kick) 14:02 (6-7)
C – M.Brown 10 yd pass from Williams (run failed) 1:25 (12-7)

3rd Quarter:
C – Iwuchukwu recovered fumble in end zone (Neitzke kick) 7:42 (19-7)
C – Allen 48 yd pass from Williams (kick wide right) 5:21 (25-7)

4th Quarter:
C – Eusebi 4 yd run (Neitzke kick) 13:22 (32-7)
AV – Willis 2 yd run (kick wide left) 9:10 (32-13)
AV – Wayne 12 yd pass from Shepherd (pass failed) 6:39 (32-19)

Team Statistics:

First Downs: Canyons 22 (13 rush, 6 pass, 3 penalty), Antelope Valley 20 (9 rush, 10 pass, 1 penalty)
Rushes-Yds:  Canyons 41-123, Antelope Valley 37-49
Passing Yds: Canyons 172, Antelope Valley 225
Comp-Att-Int: Canyons 15-23-0, Antelope Valley 17-37-1
Return Yds: Canyons 108, Antelope Valley 180
Sacks-Yds: Canyons 11-67, Antelope Valley 2-15
Fumbles-Lost: Canyons 3-3, Antelope Valley 3-1
Penalties-Yds: Canyons 7-60, Antelope Valley 12-93
Time of Possession: Canyons 26:49, Antelope Valley 33:11

Individual Statistics:
COC 9-Lambert 12-79, 3-Williams 10-30, 23-Sirmons 5-29, 12-Eusebi 3-18, 14-McBride 1-10, 29-Perry 1-(-2), 18-Moore 2-(-2), 15-Marlow 2-(-4), 20-K.Smith 5-(-18)
Passing: COC 3-CJ Williams 11-19-0-118, 2 TDs; 12-Eusebi 3-3-0-40; 18-Moore 1-1-0-22; AVC 1-Blake Shepherd 17-37-1-225, 1 TD
Receiving: COC 17-Allen 3-69, 6-M.Brown 3-23, 15-Marlow 3-14, 13-Lazarek 2-20, 22-Fitzpatrick 2-11, 14-McBride 1-26, 9-Lambert 1-9; AVC Donte Ross 8-132, 12-Keating 5-60, 5-C.Smith 3-21, 81-Wayne 1-12
Interceptions-Ret Yds: COC 34-Henderson 1-8; AVC none
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: COC 33-Iwuchukwu 1-0; AVC 8-Cheetany 1-63, 36-Robinson 1-0, 52-Palmer 1-0
Sacks-Yds: COC  80-Felkel 3-24, 46-Shook 2-13, 33-Iwuchukwu 2-12, 99-Gerald 2-8, 90-Gilder 1-6, 93-J.Brown 1-4; AVC 8-Cheetany 1-8, 27-Fisher 1-7
Punters: COC 31-McKinney 3-33.0 avg; AVC 17-Bargas 6-29.5 avg
Kick Returns: COC 35-Hall 1-39, 9-Lambert 1-11, 15-Marlow 1-(-3); AVC 2-Ross 4-103, 5-C.Smith 1-14
Punt Returns: none
Return of Blocked FG: COC 21-Wilder 1-53; AVC none
Missed FG: COC none; AVC 95-Berrera 35 yds (blocked)

Notes: Season Opener for both teams. Canyons entered ranked #21 in California preseason poll. 7-Suruy blocked the XPA for AVC. Cheetany snatched the ball from Williams for his sack, fumble recovery & TD run. 7-Wright blocked the field goal for COC; Wilder recovered and was headed for the end zone but was flagged for excessive celebration at the AVC 18. COC scored the go-ahead TD 5 plays later. Gerald sacked Shepherd in the end zone, forcing the fumble that Iwuchukwu recovered for the TD. AVC successfully executed an onsides kick after its 2nd TD with 4-Vereen recovering. COC now leads the all-time series, 13-4, and has won the last 10 meetings.

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