The result was a big win for Canyons, the defending Southern California champions. And a loss of near-historical proportions for Pasadena: it was the first time they were held to less than 10 points in a game by an opponent from outside the Mission Conference since 1986, the first time they had been held to fewer than 10 points by anyone since 1999, and their worst opening-game loss since 1967.
Pasadena's only score came on a screen pass to RB Danny Nichols, who exploded down the right sideline for a 64-yard scoring play midway through the first quarter. That tied the game for the Lancers after Canyons' QB Jason Beck had scored on a 14-yd QB draw play moments earlier. And for a moment, it looked like the anticipated offensive fireworks would materialize. But it turned out to be not just Pasadena's only score of the game, but the only time they would even seriously threaten to score.
Canyons re-claimed the lead early in the second quarter on a 3-yd run by RB Gerrell Cain. The combination of Cain and Marcus Crawford punished the Pasadena defense for 156 yds on 19 carries and 3 TDs between them, and allowed Canyons to keep control of the ball for long periods of time. Crawford ran for a pair of scores in the third quarter to put COC in control of the game, making it 28-7 Cougars.
But the big story here was the COC defense, led by DL Domata Peko, who had 1-1/2 sacks. DL Daniel Zynn, LB Suiava Peko and LB Brandon Fuselier were among the other standouts. And the Canyons defense even got into the scoring column when DB Antonio Wagner intercepted a Darnell LoVett pass and returned it for a 45-yd TD midway through the 3rd quarter, making it 34-7 and putting an exclamation mark on the Cougar victory. DB Albert Griffin also had an interception for COC. A 35-yd Josh Cummings FG rounded out the scoring in the 4th quarter.
The Cougar offense featured a balanced attack: Crawford and Cain each rushed for 78 yds, while the top receivers were Jeremy Boyle and Jason Lance with 3 catches each. Jason Beck started at QB and completed 7 of 11 passes for 109 yds, and Will Savage completed 6 of 10 passes for 50 yds. In all, COC finished with 374 yds of offense and 21 first downs.
Pasadena was led by RB Jerome Harrison (80 yds on 14 carries) and Danny Nichols (5 catches for 95 yds and the team's only TD). Darnell LoVett started at QB and completed 5 of 8 passes for 95 yds, a TD and an interception. Luke Sniewski completed 9 of 17 passes for 93 yds. Yet PCC never got the ball beyond the middle of the field except on Nichols' long TD reception, and never really threatened to score again. Pasadena had trouble all night with COC's defensive front, but also had trouble getting the plays started; they had about a dozen false start and delay of game penalties.
The Lancers, who averaged 40 points per game in 2001-02, were held to a single score for the first time since a 66-7 loss to El Camino in 1999. And the last WSC team to hold PCC to 7 points (or less) was Bakersfield in 1979; the last WSC team to hold them to below 10 was Glendale in 1986. The Lancers' 30-point loss in a season-opening game was their worst since a 36-6 loss to Fullerton to begin the 1967 season.
Meanwhile, the win sets the stage for Canyons' showdown against Palomar on September 13th as the last 2 Southern California champions square off. Game time is 7 pm at Cougar Stadium on the campus of College of the Canyons in Valencia.
C – Beck 14 yd run (Cummings kick) 10:57 -- 7-0
P – Nichols 64 pass from LoVett (Dingman kick) 8:07 -- 7-7
C – Cain 3 yd run (Cummings kick) 12:39 -- 14-7
C – Crawford 9 yd run (Cummings kick) 12:58 -- 21-7
C – Crawford 1 yd run (Cummings kick) 8:29 -- 28-7
C – Wagner 45 yd interception return (kick wide left) 7:48 -- 34-7
C – FG Cummings 35 yds 2:55 -- 37-7
C: 31-Cain 10-78, 33-Crawford 9-78, 15-Stanley 3-24, 7-Beck 4-20, 21-Theus 4-15
P: 3-Harrison 14-74, 2-LoVett 6-7, 5-Nichols 1-(-4)
C: 7-Beck 7-11-0-109; 5-Savage 6-10-0-50
P: 2-LoVett 5-8-1-95, 1 TD; 11-Sniewski 9-17-1-93
C: 19-Boyle 3-55, 6-Lance 3-34, 3-Brackett 2-29, 81-Hawkins 2-19, 4-Stanley 2-7, 31-Cain 1-15
P: 5-Nichols 5-95, 82-Garrett 3-15, 89-Hamady 2-27, 3-Harrison 2-23, 88-Venti 1-12, 83-Reid 1-9, 29-Brown 1-7
C: 20-Cummings 2-30.0 avg
P: 1-Sprague 5-25.8 avg
C: 21-Theus 1-22
P: 13-Higgins 4-84, 21-Riggins 1-13
C: 11-Griffin 1-17, 24-Wagner 1-45
C: 46-D.Peko 1-1/2, 18-Stanton 1/2, 43-S.Peko 1/2, 77-Zynn 1/2
Notes: Season opener for both teams and their first-ever meeting. Canyons entered #3 in South but #2 in California (different polls) while Pasadena entered #2 in South but #7 in California in JC Athletic Bureau/CCCFCA. JCGW had it Pasadena #3 and Canyons #8. The scoreboard clock was not functioning, hence no time of possession stat. Beck and LoVett started at QB; Savage and Sniewski each entered in 2nd quarter; both teams used both QBs after that, and Gunn got a few snaps late for COC. The missed XPA was actually a 35-yd try after a penalty; the 4th made XPA was a 30-yd try after a penalty. Pasadena never got deep into COC territory except for their one scoring play. This was the first time Pasadena has been held under 10 pts by a non-Mission Conference team since 1986 and their worst opening-game loss since 1967. Lance was ejected for a personal foul (kicking) after making his 3rd and final catch of the game early in the 3rd quarter.