Marquez Leads Canyons Past Citrus

In a game befitting a pair of first-place teams, the #1 (South) – ranked College of the Canyons Cougars and the host Citrus Owls totaled 86 points and nearly 1000 yards of offense. But when it was over, a career day for COC's Marcel Marquez, who passed for 415 yards and 2 TDs, and ran for another score, was exactly what the Cougars needed to remain undefeated and get past a strong Citrus squad. (Photo: CB Justin Tryon)

Both teams played well in this WSC crossover battle between the two division leaders, Canyons (6-0, 3-0 in the WSC-North) and Citrus (3-3, 3-0 in the WSC-South).  But Marquez was the difference in this, COC's 39th consecutive WSC win, their 34th consecutive regular-season win and their 20th consecutive win overall.  The sophomore from Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks completed 19 of 29 passes on the day in amassing his 415 yards passing.

Citrus, playing for the first time on the new field in its renovated stadium, took an early 7-0 lead and led 14-10 midway through the second quarter before Canyons scored four straight touchdowns to take control of the game.  And though each team scored twice in the final quarter, Citrus was never quite able to creep close enough to make it a one-score game.

The Owls used a bit of trickery to take the early 7-0 lead.  After taking the opening kickoff, they went on what became a 12-play, 68-yard scoring drive, thanks largely to four passes from Bryan Waggener to Grady Thomas.  Though Citrus reached the Cougar 8-yard line, a sack by COC's Josh Cordray and a false start penalty moved the ball back to the 22.  On fourth down, kicker Kirk Cabana came onto the field, apparently to attempt a 39-yard field goal.  However, when the ball was snapped, Thomas (acting as holder) took the ball and ran around the left side of the line.  Inside the 5, he eluded one final tackler and scored the game's first touchdown to make it 7-0 Owls.

When COC got the ball, they drove down the field quickly, mostly on a 46-yard pass from Marquez to Shane Morales.  That would continue all day as Morales racked up 182 yards on 7 catches.  A 17-yard run by Marquez, augmented by a late hit penalty on Citrus, gave the Cougars a 1st and goal from the 4.  However, the Owls stood firm, and turned COC away without allowing a point.  On 3rd and 4th down, Marquez attempted to score from the 1-yard line on QB sneaks, but on each play the Citrus line held.  And after fourth down, that strong defensive effort gave the ball back to the Owl offense, still leading 7-0.

But the Citrus possession ended abruptly moments later when COC's JaVonte Holmes outjumped an Owl receiver along the right sideline, intercepting what had essentially been a jump ball.  And it took COC just 3 plays to move the ball to the Citrus 29.  Then, following a pair of incomplete passes, Marquez went back to pass again on third down.  Feeling the pressure, Marquez moved around in the pocket, buying time until a receiver came open.  This would be a theme all day, and this time it worked to perfection as Marquez finally spotted Chad Garrett in the corner of the end zone and threw a 29-yard scoring pass to him, tying the game at 7.

The score remained 7-7 well into the second quarter before Canyons took the lead on a short field goal by Jonathan Johnson.  It began with another outstanding play by Holmes; this time it was a 28-yard punt return that got the ball to the Citrus 13.  Three COC plays netted just 2 yards, but on came Johnson to give the Cougars a 10-7 lead.

That lead, however, would be very short-lived.  After Citrus punter Drew Vezina's punt rolled dead at the COC 15, the Cougars took over.  And COC moved the ball out to the 34 on a 19-yard pass from Marquez to Morales.  On the next play, Marquez threw a perfect pass to Terence Scott, who had gotten behind the defense.   But Scott somehow failed to catch the ball.  And on the very next play, Marquez threw an off-balance pass towards the left sideline, and it was picked off by Citrus' Joshua Broughton and returned 32 yards for an Owl touchdown, making it 14-10.

That errant pass was probably Marquez' last mistake of the day.  From then on, he directed the COC offense virtually to perfection, and he wasted little time in getting started.  On the Cougars' next play from scrimmage, he threw a 47-yard pass to Garrett, getting the ball to the Owl 13.  Then came a 6-yard toss to Shane Silva.  And on the next play Marquez hit Billy Omahen in the corner of the end zone with a 7-yard pass that gave COC a lead it would hold the rest of the game.  Citrus' 14-10 lead had lasted all of 1:18.

And the Cougars soon got the chance to add to that lead.  On a virtual repeat of the play that resulted in Holmes' interception, Citrus' Waggener threw another high, lofting pass towards a receiver down the sideline.  And once again, a Cougar defender came down with the ball.  This time it was Justin Tryon who made the catch at the Cougar 22.  Even as the half wound down, the Cougars drove deep into Owl territory.  After a 12-yard completion by Marquez, the Cougars once again faced 1st and goal from the 4.  And once again, the Citrus defense held firm, stopping Marquez again on a QB sneak on 3rd and goal from the 1.  But this time, COC used Brian Stuart on the 4th down play, and the former Birmingham (Lake Balboa) star plowed into the end zone, giving COC a 10-point lead.  The score came with just 14 seconds left in the half.

When the second half began, COC extended its lead in an effort to take control of the game.  After taking the kickoff, the Cougars drove down the field in 5 plays, needing just 1:58 to score.  Marquez' 4-yard run on a keeper made it 31-14.  And when Citrus drove deep into COC territory on their next drive, this time it was the Cougars' turn to stop the other team's offense.  After the Owls had 1st and 10 from the COC 19, the next four plays resulted in a loss of one yard, and after three incomplete passes the Cougars took over on their 20.  Then it took just 4 more plays for COC to extend its lead even further.  A 57-yard pass to Morales got the ball all the way to the 1-yard line.  This time, COC went immediately to its new touchdown-scoring specialist and had Stuart carry the ball into the end zone on first down, making it 37-14 with 6:11 left in the third quarter.  That Citrus' Toa Alo blocked the extra point try seemed unimportant at the time.

And yet, that blocked extra point almost became important.   Citrus went on a long drive on its next possession, with Thomas capping an 11-play drive with a 21-yard TD pass from Waggener in the final minute of the quarter.  After an exchange of punts, COC answered that score when Brandon Clayton put a sweet move on a defender and scurried 28 yards into the end zone for a score that made it 44-21 with 9:28 left.  But even after that, Citrus refused to quit.  And when they got the ball back, they needed just 4 plays to score.  Dario Camacho scored on a 25-yard run to make it 44-28 with 8:35 left.  And on the next series, Canyons moved the ball just across midfield, but then faced a 4th and 1 and elected to punt again.  That gave Citrus the ball at its own 17 with 5:09 left and the Owls trailing by just 2 scores.

On the next drive, a couple of strange things happened.  That Citrus moved the ball down the field wasn't strange, as Waggener threw for 17 yards to Mike Williams and for 38 yards to Thomas to get the Owls into scoring position. What was strange was that the clock kept running after two plays on which it should have been stopped (an incomplete pass and a play out of bounds), and yet nobody on the field seemed to notice.  Citrus probably lost 30-40 seconds on the two plays combined.  Still, the Owls continued their drive.  And when Waggener connected with Charles Lewis on a 19-yard TD pass, that closed the gap to 44-34.  But curiously, the Owls elected to attempt a 1-point conversion.  So when Cabana's kick was successful, it was still a two-score game at 44-35 with 2:48 left.

And both the time lost and the chance to make it a one-score game became even more important when Canyons turned the ball over on downs (after a bizarre fake punt play on which the holder pitched the ball to punter Jonathan Johnson on an option play) at the Owl 39.  Citrus had attemted an onsides kick after their last touchdown, but COC's Michael Carr recovered the ball at the Citrus 44.  But three conventional plays gained just 4 yards, and the fake punt play gained just 1 more, giving Citrus the ball.  However, the Owls still trailed by two scores at 44-35.

And moments later, they trailed by even more.  On the next play, Waggener threw a 19-yard pass to Lewis, who made the latest of several very nice catches near the turf.  But on the next play, Waggener tried a quick out pass towards the right sideline, and COC's Tryon jumped the route and snagged the pass in stride.  With nobody between him and the goal line, Tryon kept right on running, returning the ball for a 71-yard TD and closing out the scoring at 51-35.

For Citrus, Waggener finished 19 of 32 passing for 274 yards and 2 TDs, though he also threw 3 interceptions.  Camacho led all rushers with 155 yards, which he truly earned by carrying the ball 32 times.  Thomas had a superb day with 9 catches for 151 yards plus the TD run on the fake field goal attempt. 

And in all, the teams combined for an amazing 997 yards of total offense.  COC amassed 557 yards, including the 415 yards passing by Marquez.  But Citrus put together a total of 436 yards of offense themselves.

With the win, Canyons continues its numerous winning streaks and will head home to face the 0-6 Pierce College Brahmas next Saturday.  Citrus falls to 3-3 overall, but is still alone atop the WSC-South heading into a most important game next week at Glendale, one of three teams that is just a game behind the Owls in the division race.

Individual Statistics:

Rushing: Cit:  21-D.Camacho 32-155, 27-Thomas 1-22, 32-Russo 1-4, 13-Dalton 1-0, 10-Waggener 4-(-17), team 1-(-2) Can:  20-Patterson 7-44, 21-Clayton 5-38, 15-Stuart 7-35, 4-Marquez 15-24, 22-Johnson 1-1

Passing: Cit:  10-Waggener 19-32-3-274, 2 TDs; 21-D.Camacho 0-1-0-0 Can:  4-Marquez 19-29-1-415, 2 TDs; 7-Dove 0-2-0-0

Receiving: Cit:  27-Thomas 9-151, 6-C.Lewis 5-87, 21-D.Camacho 2-6, 1-M.Williams 1-17, 89-Nesbitt 1-12, 13-Dalton 1-1 Can:  13-Morales 7-182, 80-Silva 4-45, 83-Scott 3-54, 11-Garrett 2-76, 5-Edwards 1-33, 17-McCann 1-18, 19-Omahen 1-7

Int-Ret Yds: Cit:  26-Broughton 1-32 Can:  7-Tryon 2-71, 1-Holmes 1-0

Sacks: Cit:  20-Corona, 96-Favors, 2-Tello ½, 97-Robles ½ Can:  42-LaRocque, 44-Cordray

Punters:  Cit:  17-Vezina 4-33.0 avg. Can:  22-Johnson 3-34.0 avg

Kick Ret: Cit:  27-Thomas 3-62, 2-Tello 2-18, 14-C.Camacho 1-22 Can:  35-Anderson 1-13, 2-Bullock 1-12, 1-Holmes 1-6

Punt Ret: Cit:  none Can:  1-Holmes 2-28

Notes:  Battle of the first-place teams!  Canyons ent. 5-0, 3-0 in WSC-N, #1 in South, #3 JC Grid-Wire.  Citrus ent. 3-2, 3-0 in WSC-South, #12 in South.  Citrus' 1st TD was on fake FG play.  COC's 1st and 3rd TDs both came on 4th down plays.  7-T.Alo blocked the XPA for Citrus.  Career high passing yds for Marquez.  It's COC's 20th straight win, 34th straight regular season win and 39th straight WSC win.

Scoring Summary:

1st Quarter:
Citrus – Thomas 22 yd run (Cabana kick) 8:52 -- 0-7
Canyons – Garrett 29 yd pass from Marquez (Johnson kick) 1:10 -- 7-7

2nd Quarter:
Canyons – FG Johnson 26 yds 10:10 -- 10-7
Citrus – Broughton 32 yd interception return (Cabana kick) 6:58 -- 10-14
Canyons – Omahen 7 yd pass from Marquez (Johnson kick) 5:40 -- 17-14
Canyons – Stuart 1 yd run (Johnson kick) 0:14 -- 24-14

3rd Quarter:
Canyons – Marquez 4 yd run (Johnson kick) 13:02 -- 31-14
Canyons – Stuart 1 yd run (kick blocked) 6:11 -- 37-14
Citrus – Thomas 21 yd pass from Waggener (Cabana kick) 0:31 -- 37-21 

4th Quarter:
Canyons – Clayton 28 yd run (Johnson kick) 9:28 -- 44-21
Citrus – D.Camacho 25 yd run (Cabana kick) 8:35 -- 44-28
Citrus – C.Lewis 19 yd pass from Waggener (Cabana kick) 2:48 -- 44-35
Canyons – Tryon 71 yd interception return (Johnson kick) 0:43 -- 51-35

Team Statistics: Citrus Canyons
First Downs 22 (7 run; 13 pass; 2 penalty) 21 (6 run; 15 pass)
Rushes – Yards 40-162 35-142
Passing Yards 274 415
Comp - Att – Int 19-33-3 19-31-1
Return Yards 134 130
Sacks – Yards 3-19 2-17
Fumbles – Lost 1-0 2-0
Penalties – Yards 5-25 5-45
Time of Possession 32:46 27:14


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