They have advanced to the SoCal championship game next week at Saddleback.
It was an amazing performance by a team, and particularly a defense, that seems to be peaking at exactly the right time. Coming off the program's first-ever postseason shutout, a 21-0 whitewash of El Camino in the first round of the playoffs, COC wasted no time in posting the program's second-ever shutout. This game was expected by virtually everybody to be a close, hard-fought match-up that could go either way. But it was anything but close at the end.
For a half, though, it was a close battle and the game was dominated by the defenses. The first time each team had the ball, the offense was held without a first down before having to punt. Then Grossmont fumbled near midfield and COC's Jerrod Perry recovered for the Cougars at their own 45, and that was the break the Cougars were looking for. What followd was an 11-play, 55-yard scoring drive by Canyons that gave the Cougars the all-important lead. An 18-yard pass from Cory Miles to Steve Silva got COC to the Grossmont 27, and five plays later Miles got the ball to the 1 on a quarterback draw. And on the next play, Miles scored on a sneak to give the Cougars the lead.
After that, neither team would score again in the first half. Grossmont would get excellent field position time and time again (their next four possessions began at their 40, their 46, their 42 and their 47) but failed to capitalize as each time the Canyons defense held firm. During the first 5 times the Griffins had the ball, they were able to muster just 2 first downs. Meanwhile, the COC offense did little more than that. On one occasion they drove to the Grossmont 11, primarily because of a 43-yard run by Caldwell, but two plays later Miles was intercepted in the end zone by Adam Cooper to end that threat.
Grossmont finally put together a drive late in the second quarter as Jarrod Jackson completed passes of 22 yards to Jason Factuar and 23 yards to Michael Omar, but the drive stalled at the Canyons 16 when COC's Kris Theus knocked down a Jackson pass on third down. On came kicker Dan Zeidman to try a 33-yard field goal. But his kick was both short and wide right, keeping COC ahead, 7-0. Later, as the first half clock wound down, Grossmont again drove into COC territory, but they turned the ball over on downs at the 42 with 4 seconds left in the half.
When the third quarter started, at first it seemed that little had changed. Grossmont received the kickoff, which Jason Tompkins booted through the end zone, and took over at their own 20. That is actually an important thing to remember, since though Tompkins is an excellent kicker and often puts his kickoffs into the end zone, another factor was that it was already a windy night and now it was even windier. Grossmont took over, heading into the wind. And three plays later, the Griffins faced 4th and 4, so just as they had done 5 times in the first half, they punted.
But it was now very windy. And perhaps Zeidman was trying to navigate the wind, but the punt went off the side of his foot and (with the wind working against him) went out of bounds at the Grossmont 31 for a 5-yard kick.
That was the break COC was waiting for, and it basically opened the floodgates. By the time the quarter was over, COC had a commanding lead and was ready to start planning their route to Mission Viejo for their game next week vs. Saddleback.
On the play after the 5-yard punt, Gerrell Cain rambled for 14 yards down to the Grossmont 17. On the next play, he gained 8 more yards to get to the 9. And then it was Caldwell's turn, and the 215-pound back powered through the Griffin defense for a 9-yard TD run to put COC two scores ahead.
And it just got worse for Grossmont when the got the ball back when RB Rajive Otah fumbled while going through the line. COC's Dez Revish recovered at the 50. Then came a 33-yard pass from Miles to Devin Stearns, followed by a 10-yard run by Cain to the 7 to give the Cougars a first-and-goal. With backup QB Marcel Marquez on to run the red-zone offense, the Cougars got to the 5 on a run by Marquez. Then a give to Caldwell looked to be stopped for a short gain until Caldwell moved the pile ever closer to the end zone, finally reaching the 1 before the play was whistled dead. And on the next play, Caldwell powered through the line and across the goal line to make it 20-0 Canyons. Though Tompkins' extra point try was blocked, it looked like COC already had all the points it would need.
But they weren't done scoring just yet. After another 3-and-out (and a better punt by Zeidman – 36 yards into the wind) COC got the ball back at their own 31. The Cougars ground out 36 yards over the next 9 plays to reach the Grossmont 33, where they faced a 4th and 2. On came Tompkins to try a 50-yard field goal. It seemed like a good gamble, considering that the strong wind was behind the kicker. But Tompkins didn't use (or even need) much help from the wind as he kicked a line drive straight through the uprights for a 50-yard field goal. That made it 23-0 with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
And when Grossmont got the ball back, once again things just got worse. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed them back to their own 15, and then a Jackson pass was intercepted by COC's Michael Carr at the 31. Following his blockers down the right sideline, Carr took it the distance to give COC an insurmountable 30-0 lead with 1:12 left in the third quarter. Carr's return capped the 23-point quarter and left absolutely no doubt as to the outcome of the game.
The only remaining question was whether COC would post its second straight postseason shutout (and its third overall in the last four games). Twice Grossmont drove inside the COC 20, but each time they came away empty. The first time a fumble ended the drive when COC's Ro Marshall recovered the ball at the Cougar 15. Later in the quarter, the Griffins drove to the COC 14 before turning the ball over on downs as a receiver dropped a Jackson pass. But all that was academic as the COC had the game well in hand by that time. And now they had the shutout as well.
Though the Cougars had the better of most of the game's statistics, there was only one stat that really shows how dominate COC was in this game: time of possession. The Cougars held the ball for 40:20 compared to just 19:40 for Grossmont, a remarkable advantage. The result was that COC could grind out yards, running down the clock and wearing out the defense; COC ran 50 running plays in the game. In contrast, Grossmont had little luck running the ball until they were well behind, netting just 1 yard in the first half. The result was a lot of passing as they attempted 45 passes. But just 15 of those were completed. The Griffins also had four turnovers.
For Canyons, Miles played most of the way at QB and finished 15 of 29 passing for 135 yards and 2 interceptions. Marquez also saw considerable action, and he rushed for 33 yards in addition to completing a pass for 18 more. Caldwell led all rushers with 85 yards on 12 carries and 2 TDs. Tyrell Smith led Cougar receivers with 5 catches for 41 yards, while TE Jason Lance had 4 catches for 42 yards.
For Grossmont, Jackson finished 15 of 44 for 192 yards and an interception. Otah led Griffin rushers with 49 yards on 10 carries. Marques Clark (6 catches, 79 yards) and Michael Omar (4 catches, 66 yards) had solid games as well.
C – Miles 1 yd run (Tompkins kick) 7:33 -- 7-0
C – Caldwell 9 yd run (Tompkins kick) 12:34 -- 14-0
C – Caldwell 1 yd run (kick blocked) 9:47 -- 21-0
C – FG Tompkins 50 yds 2:22 -- 23-0
C – Carr 31 yd interception return (Tompkins kick) 1:12 -- 30-0
|First Downs||19 (14 run; 5 pass)||16 (6 run; 9 pass; 1 penalty)|
|Rushes – Yards||50-218||23-78|
|Comp - Att – Int||15-29-2||15-45-1|
|Sacks – Yards||1-13||1-7|
|Fumbles – Lost||1-0||5-3|
|Penalties – Yards||15-115||7-75|
|Time of Possession||40:20||19:40|
Rushing: C: 29-Caldwell 12-85, 30-Cain 9-45, 24-Clayton 11-39, 4-Marquez 10-33, 8-Miles 6-17, 15-Edwards 1-1, team 1-(-2) G: 7-Otah 10-49, 4-Jackson 5-20, 29-Turchetta 1-16, 30-Flenoid 5-9, 48-Nahawawa 1-(-1), team 1-(-15)
Passing: C: 8-Miles 14-22-2-135; 4-Marquez 1-6-0-18; 6-Lance 0-1-0-0 G: 4-Jackson 15-44-1-192; 30-Flenoid 0-1-0-0
Receiving: C: 7-T.Smith 5-41, 6-Lance 4-42, 13-Stearns 2-42, 80-Silva 1-18, 30-Cain 1-8,19-Omahen 1-4, 29-Caldwell 1-(-2) G: 15-Clark 6-79, 82-Omar 4-66, 10-Factuar 3-38, 48-Nahiwawa 1-5, 86-Lewis 1-4
Int-Ret Yds: C: 25-Carr 1-31 G: 8-Cooper 2-0
Sacks-Yds: C: 90-Nelson 1-13 G: 17-Jilles 1-7
Punters: C: 17-Kearney 8-36.9 avg G: 33-Zeidman 8-36.8 avg
Kick Ret: C: none G: 30-Flenoid 1-25, 7-Otah 1-23
Punt Ret: C: 2-Marshall 3-14 G: 22-Womack 3-22, 7-Otah 1-11
Missed FG: C: none G: 33-Zeidman 33 yds (short, wide right; into wind)
Notes: Canyons entered 11-0, #2 seed in SoCal playoffs, #4 in JC Grid-Wire ranking. Grossmont entered 11-0, #3 seed, #5 in JC Grid-Wire. This is the second shutout in COC postseason history; the first was last week vs. El Camino. Miles started at QB for COC; Marquez entered in 2nd quarter and both played after that. Lance's pass was on a reverse/flanker option; Flenoid's pass was on a halfback option. It was quite windy. Zeidman's first punt of the second half was into the wind; it went off the side of his foot and traveled just 5 yards. COC scored three plays later.