Canyons wins Must-See Matchup in OT

Marcus Crawford scored on a 2-yd run in overtime, and the College of the Canyons defense made it stand up for a 21-15 win over Palomar in a battle of the two most recent Southern California champions September 13th in Valencia.  Terrell Stanley had a huge game for the Cougars with 8 catches for 84 yds and 2 TDs plus a 35-yd pass completion on an option play, but just as in the win the previous week over Pasadena, this was a complete team victory for the Cougars. 

Following Crawford's score to give Canyons a 21-15 lead after their first possession of overtime, the Cougar defense rose to the occasion and stopped Palomar on their overtime possession.  On a 3rd and 2 play, DB Charles Manigo blitzed and sacked Comet QB Matt Pound for a 10-yd loss.  Then on the game's final play, a Pound pass was intercepted by Albert Griffin near the goal line to seal the win.

The game lived up to the advance billing, described as "Must-See Football" on the marquee outside College of the Canyons, and 60 minutes of regulation time wasn't enough to determine the winner.  Neither team scored in the 4th quarter, though COC missed a field goal with less than a minute to play.  It was one of the few mistakes all night for either team in an extremely well-played game. 

For most of the night, this one could have gone either way.  Canyons got the better of the overall statistics with 402 yds of offense and 25 first downs (Palomar had 289 yds and 14 first downs), but was seldom to get into real scoring position.  Kicker Josh Cummings had an off-night, but 2 of his 3 missed field goal attempts were from 47 and 51 yds; Ryan Lux of Palomar also missed a 51-yarder than would have given the Comets a lead early in the 4th quarter.  The long field goal attempts show not only the teams' confidence in their kickers, but how tough any scoring chances were to come by as each team got into the red zone only twice in regulation time.

In ther first quarter, Palomar got on the board first on a 28-yd field goal by Lux.  The Comets also scored midway through the second quarter on a 29-yd field goal by Lux.  Those would be Palomar's only red zone chances during regulation, and they basically stopped themselves from having the opportunity for a touchdown on the second of these drives when Pound fumbled on successive plays.  He recovered his own fumble both times, but after his second recovery it set up 4th and goal at the 12, and the Comets settled for Lux's second field goal.

Between Palomar field goals, Canyons scored the only touchdown of the first half, and Terrell Stanley was in the middle of it all.  First, he took a backward pass across the field from COC QB Jason Beck, drifted towards the right sideline, and lofted a pass to WR Trevor Brackett for a 35-yd gain.  Then T. Stanley finished off the drive by catching a 16-yd pass from Beck for the score.  Cummings' extra point made it 7-6 Canyons, which is where things stood at intermission.

To begin the second half, Palomar's defense turned things in the Comets' favor.  A 3-and-out by COC forced a Cougar punt, but Cummings' kick never got out of the end zone as Palomar DB Ron Rockett burst around the left side of the line and blocked the punt.  The ball bounced back over the end line for a safety, giving Palomar its first lead of the game at 8-7.

And the Comet defense wasn't finished yet.  DE Soli Lefiti's sack forced another punt, this one out of the COC end zone, and the Palomar line again put on the pressure.  Cummings' kick made it out to the 40, but return man Speedy Anthony returned it 18 yds to the Cougar 22.  On the next play, Pound found Travis Plash in the end zone for the score.  Lux' extra point made it 15-7 with 7:58 left in the third quarter. 

But then the COC offense responded with a long drive.  The key play was a run by RB Gerrell Cain, who was caught from behind by Palomar's Josh Gomez, but only after Cain had gained 38 yds.  And COC scored moments later when Beck teamed with Terrell Stanley on a 23-yd TD pass.  With the score now 15-13, the Cougars elected to go for a 2-point conversion, and they tied the game when Beck found Bobby Stanley in the right side of the end zone for the catch.  That tied the game 15-15 with 5:33 left in the third, seemingly leaving a long time for more points, but there would be no more scoring in  regulation time.

Each team had four possession in the fourth quarter, but the defenses stood firm.  Cummings and Lux each attempted long field goals, and the teams combined for 4 punts.  COC had the best chance to score in the game's final minutes when they drove to the Comet 16 behind the running of Crawford and Beck.  But Cummings' 33-yd field goal try appeared to sail around the outside of the right upright, keeping the game tied.  Palomar's final possession in regulation ended on an interception by COC's Kevin Jones

On the night, Canyons rolled up over 400 yds of offense in a true team effort.  Beck was 16 of 30 for 147 yds and 2 TDs, while Will Savage saw some action in the 2nd and 3rd quarters and went 6 of 11 for 45 yds.  Terrell Stanley led all receivers with 8 catches, good for 84 yds and 2 TDs, and had the completion for 35 yds passing.  Trevor Brackett had 5 catches for 62 yds.  Cain led all rushers with 90 yds on 12 carries, while Crawford added 55 yds on 14 carries including the all-important TD in overtime.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Canyons offense was its depth.  Despite missing several key players from last week's win over Pasadena – WR Jeremy Boyle, TE Jason Lance, WR/KR Danny Burnley to name three – the Cougars found replacements to compensate.  WR Kevin Estes had 3 catches for 20 yds, TE Chris Butler had 2 catches for 37 yds and return man Roshawn Marshall had punt returns of 17 and 19 yds plus an alert play to jump on a punt that had hit Terrell Stanley on the foot. 

Palomar had its share of standouts as well.  RB Lawrence Letuli had 81 yds on 19 carries while backup Thomas Fisher added 39 yds on 9 attempts.  WR Adam Burke had 3 catches for a game-high 87 yds while Plash had 2 catches for 39 yds and a TD.  DE Soli Lefiti had 2 of the defense's 4 sacks.  Return specialist Speedy Anthony had 125 yds on returns, including the punt return that set up a TD.  DB Ron Rockett was a force all night, which included but was not limited to his block of the punt for the safety. 

COC came out on top this time, but nobody who watched the game would be at all surprised if these two teams played another round of "Must-See Football" on December 6th in the regional championship game.

Individual Statistics:

C:  31-Cain 12-90, 33-Caldwell 14-55, 7-Beck 12-33, 20-Cummings 1-7, 5-Savage 2-(-10)
P:  3-Letuli 19-81, 20-Fisher 9-39, 2-Pound 5-(-12)

7-Beck 16-30-1-147, 2 TDs; 5-Savage 6-11-0-45; 4-T.Stanley 1-1-0-35
P:  2-Pound 13-31-3-181, 1 TD

  4-T.Stanley 8-84, 3-Brackett 5-62, 81-Hawkins 3-35, 84-Estes 3-20, 82-Butler 2-37, 31-Cain 1-(-1), 33-Crawford 1-(-10)
P:  6-Carter 5-33, 8-Burke 3-87, 84-Plash 2-39, 9-Bass 1-14, 85-Mulchrone 1-5, 89-Cardenas 1-3

  Cummings 5-36.4  avg   + 1 blk 
  13-Hotchkiss 6-43.0 avg

Kick Ret:
  2-Marshall 2-30, 21-Theus 1-20
  27-Anthony 4-107

Punt Ret:
C:  2-Marshall 4-36
  27-Anthony 1-18

Int-Ret Yds:
  1-K.Jones 1-0, 2-Marshall 1-6, 11-Griffin 1-7
P:  32-Kargis 1-0

Fum Rec:

  96-Lefiti 2, 92-Vaeao, 1-Gomez 1/2, 5-Rockett 1/2

Missed FG:
20-Cummings 51 (wl), 47 (wl), 33 (wr)
11-Lux 51 (wide left)

Both teams entered 1-0.  COC ranked #1 in South, #2 by JCGW; Palomar #2 South, #11 JCGW. Beck started at QB for COC; Savage got some time in 2nd and 3rd quarters.  T.Stanley's pass was a flanker option play to Brackett, which set up COC's 1st TD.  Cummings' run was on a fake FG play, and came up a yard short of the 1st down.  His earlier 51-yd FG att. would have been a COC record if he'd made it.  His 33-yd att with 57 secs was very close.  Jones' int came on Palomar's last possession of regulation with 36 secs left.  Rockett blocked the punt.  Palomar's TD came 1 play after Anthony's 18-yd punt return.  Manigo's sack came on 3rd & 2 in OT, forcing a desperation pass on 4th & 12, which Griffin intercepted to end the game.  1st COC home game on field turf!


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