Marquez and Clayton helped the Cougars play the ball-control game to perfection, as COC held possession for over 43 minutes and did not commit a single turnover. And the COC defense did the rest, limiting Grossmont to just 8 first downs and 151 yards of total offense.
COC set the tone for the night on their first possession, which ended up being a 13-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that chewed 6:32 off the clock. Marquez kept the drive alive by completing a 14-yard pass to WR Steve Silva on 4th down, and he also finished the drive with a 4-yard scoring run to give the Cougars an early 7-0 lead.
But Grossmont answered back quickly, primarily due to the spectacular running of return man Darrell Hutsona. The speedy freshman took the ensuing kickoff at his own 4-yard line and returned it 91 yards to set up the equalizing touchdown for the Griffins. COC's Will Strong made a shoestring tackle of Hustona, who finally fell to the ground at the Cougar 5-yard line. For a moment, it looked like Strong might have saved COC's lead as three plays netted the Griffins just 2 yards. But on 4th and goal, RB Kevin Smith powered into the end zone, allowing Grossmont to even the game at 7.
The next time Canyons got the ball, they again embarked on a long, time-consuming drive that ended in a touchdown. This time the drive took 8 plays and covered 60 yards, and was helped along the way by three personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Grossmont. Marquez capped the drive by throwing a jump-pass to WR Shane Smith from 6 yards out to give Canyons the lead once again with 34 seconds left in the first quarter. However, COC's lead remained at 6 when Grossmont's Zach Tenner broke through and blocked the extra point attempt.
In the second quarter, both defenses asserted themselves and neither team scored until the final seconds of the half. After an exchange of punts, a holding penalty and a sack by Grossmont's Roderkus Wright pushed Canyons back to its own 1-yard line. And after a punt the Griffins got the ball at the Cougar 32. However, Grossmont gained just 6 yards on the next four plays, turning the ball back to COC on downs at the 26 without scoring any points. And after COC moved the ball into Grossmont territory on their next drive, the Griffins got the ball back on their own 15. Three plays and a short (22-yard) punt gave COC the ball back at the Griffin 38. Then the Cougars took advantage of their opportunity at a short field, pushing their lead to 19-7 after an 8-play drive that ended with Marquez scoring on a QB sneak with 9 seconds left in the half. The 2-point conversion attempt failed when Grossmont's Quentin London intercepted Marquez' toss in the end zone, but the Cougars still had a 19-7 lead at the half.
The third quarter saw the defenses continue to dominate early on. Neither team could move the ball until Canyons took advantage of another short field to push their lead to 25-7. After a Jonathan Johnson punt was downed at the Grossmont 9, the Griffins managed just 9 yards on three plays before having to punt. Jared Ballman kicked a 31-yard punt on fourth down, but that gave Canyons the ball on the Grossmont 49. The Cougars then went on a 10-play drive, chewing up another 6:19, before RB Sean Edwards scored from 5 yards out to give Canyons a commanding 18-point lead.
And moments later, COC extended its lead and seemingly wrapped up the win when DB Michael Carr intercepted a Reilly Murphy pass at the 22 and took it the distance for a touchdown. After Andrew Jones kicked the extra point, COC held a 32-7 lead with 2:17 left in the third quarter.
Faced with such a large deficit, Grossmont then went into a 2-minute style offense. And after a COC interception was waved off due to pass interference, the strategy paid off when Murphy directed an 8-play drive that ended with a 9-yard TD pass to WR William Boughton. A 23-yard pass from Murphy to WR Thomas Imoesiri and a 21-yard toss to WR Michael Omar helped the drive along. Ballman's kick made it 32-14 with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.
At that point, COC inserted backup QB Cary Dove into the game, and the result was three plays and a penalty that took the Cougars from their own 20 to their own 11 and facing fourth down. On came Johnson, who booted a beautiful 43-yard spiral towards the left sideline. But when the ball came down, it landed in the hands of the speedy Hutsona, who once again put together a dazzling runback. Taking the ball at his own 46, he eluded several tacklers and burst down the sideline for a 54-yard TD return. Then, Grossmont went for a 2-point conversion, and when Murphy found TE Jeremiah Mareko in the end zone, it was a 10-point game with nearly 14 minutes left on the clock.
But once COC got the ball back, the Cougars took control of the game once more even without scoring another point. Behind the running and short passing of Marquez, who re-entered the game, and the running of Clayton, the Cougars marched methodically down the field. The longest play was a 19-yard run by Clayton, but the drive consisted mostly of modest gains. And the Cougars gradually moved down the field, chewing up the clock as they went. In all, the drive consisted of 18 plays and covered 79 yards. Though it ended without points when Grossmont stopped Marquez on 4th and goal at the 1, it accomplished what COC needed most, chewing up over 9 minutes off the clock. Now only 4:38 remained, with Grossmont trailing by 10 and starting its offense from its own 1-yard line.
And moments later, the Cougars had the ball back once again. Just four plays into their last drive, Grossmont turned the ball over when COC's Troy Nolan intercepted a Murphy pass at the Griffin 37-yard line. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on COC just gave the Cougars a little more field to use to run out the clock. A 4th-down run by Clayton got the ball to the Grossmont 40 and allowed the Cougars to hold possession a little longer. Finally, by the time Johnson's final punt of the night rolled into the end zone, just 12 seconds remained on the clock and Grossmont had used all of its timeouts.
With the win, Canyons records its 30th consecutive regular-season victory and its 16th consecutive victory overall. Grossmont, which lost to COC in the playoffs in 2004, falls to 1-1.
Rushing: C: 21-B.Clayton 28-123, 4-Marquez 18-36, 83-Scott 2-8, 15-Stuart 3-4, 5-Edwards 1-0, 7-Dove 1-(-1), 20-Patterson 1-(-3) G: 25-K.Smith 10-49, 2-Hutsona 5-13, 2-Turhetta 1-9, 35-Toiofu 1-1, 30-Flenoid 1-0, 10-Murphy 4-(-4)
Passing: C: 4-Marquez 16-21-0-126, 1 TD; 5-Edwards 0-1-0-0; 7-Dove 0-1-0-0 G: 10-Murphy 9-18-2-83, 1 TD
Receiving: C: 83-Scott 4-45, 18-S.Smith 4-28, 5-Edwards 3-19, 80-Silva 2-26, 17-McCann 1-6, 11-Garrett 1-3, 21-Clayton 1-(-1) G: 5-Omar 2-30, 16-Imoesiri 1-23, 88-Howard 1-14, 84-Boughton 1-9, 25-K.Smith 1-8, 18-Allen 1-2, 2-Hutsona 1-(-1), 20-Brunker 1-(-2)
Int-Ret Yds: C: 4-Carr 1-22, 14-Nolan 1-0
Sacks-Yds: C: 42-LaRocque 1-7 G: 97-Wright 1-8, 31-Leung Wai 1-5
Punters: C: 22-Johnson 5-39.0 avg G: 56-Ballman 4-30.0 avg
Kick Ret: C: 83-Scott 2-20 G: 2-Hutsona 3-137, 28-Nunnery 3-44
Punt Ret: C: none G: 2-Hutsona 3-69
Notes: Both teams entered 1-0. Canyons was ranked #3 by JC Grid-Wire; Grossmont was ranked #4. Marquez played most of the game at QB. Dove had 1 series in 3rd qtr. Edwards' pass was HB option play. Johnson kicked all XPAs for COC except the last one. 62-Tenner blk the XPA kick for Grossmont. 26-London intercepted the pass for Grossmont on the 2-point XPA try. After Grossmont closed to within 10 pts, COC went on an 18-play, 79-yard drive - it ended when Marquez was stopped on 4th and goal from the 1- that chewed up 9:09 off the clock. And after Nolan's int. moments later, COC held the ball for 3:16 more – until just 12 seconds remained.