Canyons Grabs Playoff Win Over Bakersfield

It wasn't always pretty, and the game was a lot closer than the final score might indicate, but Marcel Marquez and the College of the Canyons Cougars came up with 4 fourth-quarter touchdowns to get past WSC rival Bakersfield and advance to the Southern California championship game with a 48-26 win on a windy Saturday night.

Marquez passed for just 196 yards, well below his average.  And he had a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.  And Canyons trailed, 26-21, early in the fourth quarter.  But as befits the WSC-North Player of the Year and an undefeated defending state and national champion team, Marquez and the Cougars stormed back and made the big plays down the stretch to get the win over the Renegades.

One play seemed to typify the Cougar effort.  Facing a 4th and 9 at the Bakersfield 39, COC decided against a kick and went for the first down late in the second quarter.  Marquez dropped back and drifted right.  Though Bakersfield had initially sent just 3 rushers, a delayed blitz created some pressure.  Two Renegades seemingly had Marquez hemmed in, but the nimble quarterback somehow eluded them both.  Then he broke another attempted arm-tackle.  Then he ran towards the left sideline to buy more time.  By now the play had taken nearly 10 seconds – an eternity for a quarterback.  Finally, Marquez stopped and turned, and he spotted Shane Morales all alone near the 10-yard line along the right sideline.  Marquez then threw the pass back across the field – the ball probably went 40 yards in the air – into the waiting hands of Morales for a 39-yard touchdown that gave COC a 14-10 lead.

Though that play was the signature play for the Cougar win, and perhaps the Cougar season, it certainly didn't settle the outcome of this game.  Long after that play, Bakersfield took a 26-21 lead when Thomas Peregrin threw a 10-yard scoring pass to Tyrece Lee Jr. on the first play of the fourth quarter.  Suddenly, Bakersfield, which narrowly missed defeating COC in early October, looked primed for the upset.

But then the Cougars came through with big play after big play.  On the ensuing kickoff, Ja'Vonte Holmes returned the kick 24 yards to the COC 45.  And on the very next play, Marquez found Terence Scott, who had a career night in the first round of the playoffs last week, all alone behind the defense.  Marquez' pass hit Scott in stride for a 55-yard touchdown play that put COC back ahead, 27-26.  An attempted 2-point conversion failed when a Marquez pass hit the turf, but that turned out to be of no consequence.

After a punt by each team, Canyons got the break it needed to widen the gap when COC's Chad Landry recovered a fumble by Bakersfield's J.R. Rogers.  It was a frustrating night all around for the Bakersfield standout runner, who was held to just 23 yards on 20 carries.  This time, the turnover gave the Cougars the ball at the Bakersfield 21.  And it took COC just three plays to score, the final 6 yards coming on a determined run by Marquez on which he ran through several would-be tacklers on the way to the end zone to make it 34-26.

After the COC defense forced another Bakersfield punt, the Cougar offense got the ball at its own 42.  But one play later, COC was in scoring position once again after Marquez rambled for a 55-yard run that got the ball to the Bakersfield 3.  Sean Edwards powered the ball across the goal line on the very next play for the touchdown.   That made it 41-26.  And after COC forced another Bakersfield punt, it seemed the lead was safe.

Just for a moment, Bakersfield got back into the game, but just as quickly that opportunity disappeared, both thanks to COC's Holmes.  On the Bakersfield punt, Holmes muffed the ball and Bakersfield's Bryant Matthews recovered at the 47.  But on the very next play, Holmes intercepted a Peregrin pass to give the Cougars the ball back.  Though COC lost quite a bit of yardage in the exchange, that just allowed COC to use up more time on their next touchdown drive.  That drive chewed up 3:31, taking the clock down to under 3 minutes left when Vince Patterson scored from 13 yards out to push the COC lead to 22 points and clinch the victory.

For much of the game, the windy conditions seemed to play havoc with both teams' offenses.  COC scored fairly easily on a 6-play drive the first time it got the ball, taking a 7-0 lead when Marquez threw to Steve Silva, who made an acrobatic catch in the end zone, taking the ball away from a Bakersfield defender for a 39-yard touchdown catch.  But the only other score of the first quarter came when Bakersfield's excellent kicker, Jose Martinez Jr., booted a 47-yard field goal (that would have been good from at least 60 yards) at the end of the Renegades' first possession of the game. 

Bakersfield got the opportunity to score again after Omar Hill intercepted a Marquez pass and the Renegades drove to the Canyon 1-yard line.  But on 4th and goal from the 1, Eric Velez tried to plow through the middle of the line only to have the ball knocked out of his hands and into the air.  Holmes recovered for COC, ending that scoring threat and keeping the Cougars ahead, 7-3.  And following a COC punt, the Renegades again had the chance to score, reaching the COC 10-yard line.  But Martinez' 27-yard field goal attempt was blown wide right by the swirling winds, again keeping COC in front by 4 points.

The Renegades finally grabbed the lead moments later, however, when Keith Camp intercepted a Marquez pass in stride and carried it 24 yards for a touchdown.  That put Bakersfield ahead, 14-10. 

But COC regained the lead on its next drive that was capped by Marquez' remarkable 4th-down pass to Morales for the touchdown.  And though the half was winding down, COC used its timeouts to force a Bakersfield punt on its next possession.  That strategy turned worked perfectly when Holmes fielded the punt and then burst down the left sideline 52 yards to the Bakersfield 7-yard line.  Though the punter had stopped Holmes' run for the end zone, the Cougars got the touchdown on the next play when Marquez lofted a pass into the corner of the end zone to QB-turned-WR Cary Dove for a 7-yard TD play.  It was Dove's first touchdown reception since moving to receiver, and gave the Cougars a 21-10 halftime lead.

Though Bakersfield must have been a bit stunned to have given up a pair of touchdowns in the first half's final 1:17, the Renegades showed no ill effects in the third quarter.  COC took the second half kickoff, but four plays later lost the ball on a fumble when Brandon Clayton fumbled.  Bakersfield's Charles Gamble recovered the ball and returned it to the 18, missing a touchdown only because Marquez made the saving tackle.  Bakersfield was helped by a pair of penalties on the Cougars but needed just three plays to score, closing the gap to 21-17 after a 3-yard TD run by Rogers.

And the rest of the quarter for COC was literally a matter of kicking into the wind.  The offense got the ball three more times, and each time punter Jonathan Johnson was forced to kick the ball away and into the wind.  The first time Bakersfield got the ball, the offense was unable to move behond the 38 but punter Joshua Brite pinned COC deep at the 2 with a nicely-placed kick.  But the next time, Bakersfield drove to the Canyons 3 before a penalty moved the ball back to the 8.  The drive stalled there, so on came Martinez, who booted a 25-yard field goal to close the margin to a single point at 21-20.

Following the third COC punt of the third quarter, Bakersfield drove for a touchdown to take the lead.  A 29-yard pass from Peregrin to Rogers gave the Renegades a 1st and goal at the 5.  And following a penalty, Peregrin finished the drive with a 10-yard TD pass to Lee, putting Bakersfield ahead, 26-21, on the first play of the fourth quarter.  That, however, would be Bakersfield's final scoring play of the night, and ultimately of the season.

For COC, Marquez had a typical night in that he threw for 4 touchdowns and ran for another.  But it was far from his most prolific performance, as he completed just 11 of 29 passes for only 196 yards, and also threw a pair of interceptions.  He did lead all rushers with 109 yards on 15 carries.  Morales was the leading COC receiver with 4 catches for 61 yards and a score.  Holmes was all over the scoresheet with an interception, a fumble recovery, a 52-yard punt return and a 24-yard kickoff return.  And he was part of a COC defense that held Bakersfield to a mere 8 yards rushing (on 33 carries) for the entire game.

For Bakersfield, which lost to Canyons, 24-23, on a last-minute touchdown in October, the loss ends their season at 9-3.  Peregrin completed 19 of 39 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown, though he, like Marquez, had 2 interceptions.  Lee caught 6 passes for 65 yards and a TD, while Jonathan Nunez had a strong game as well with 5 catches for 80 yards.

With the win, COC extends its winning streak to 25 games and will host Grossmont in the Southern California championship game next Saturday at 7 pm.

Saturday, November 26, 2005 - 7 p.m.
at Cougar Stadium, Valencia, CA

2005 Southern California Semifinal

College of the Canyons (Cougars)  48
Bakersfield College  (Renegades)  26

1st Quarter:

C – Silva 39 yd pass from Marquez (Johnson kick) 12:28 -- 7-0
B – FG Martinez 47 yds 6:37 -- 7-3 

2nd Quarter:

B – Camp 24 yd interception return (Martinez kick) 5:36 -- 7-10
C – Morales 29 yd pass from Marquez (Johnson kick) 1:17 -- 14-10
C – Dove 7 yd pass from Marquez (Johnson kick) 0:03 -- 21-10

3rd Quarter:

B – Rogers 3 yd run (Martinez kick) 12:00 -- 21-17
B – FG Martinez 25 yds 3:44 -- 21-20 

4th Quarter:

B – Lee 10 yd pass from Peregrin (pass failed) 14:56 -- 21-26
C – Scott 55 yd pass from Marquez (pass failed) 14:37 -- 27-26
C – M arquez 6 yd run (Johnson kick) 9:00 -- 34-26
C – Edwards 3 yd run (Johnson kick) 7:03 -- 41-26
C – Patterson 13 yd run (Johnson kick) 2:56 -- 48-26

Team Statistics: Canyons Bakersfield
First Downs 19 (12 run; 6 pass; 1 penalty) 15 (1 run; 11 pass; 3 penalty)
Rushes – Yards 40-271 33-8
Passing Yards 196 281
Comp - Att – Int 11-29-2 19-39-2
Return Yards 109 76
Sacks – Yards 5-29 1-11
Fumbles – Lost 5-2 2-2
Penalties – Yards 14-87 10-85
Time of Possession 29:34 30:26

Individual Statistics:

Rushing:  C:  4-Marquez 15-109, 5-Edwards 8-71, 15-Stuart 3-38, 21-Clayton 8-28, 32-Harris 3-19, 20-Patterson 1-13, 7-Dove 1-(-6), team 1-(-1) B:  3-Rogers 20-23, 28-Velez 4-2, 7-Lee 1-1, 9-Peregrin 7-(-17), team 1-(-1)

Passing: C:  4-Marquez 11-29-2-196, 4 TDs  B:  9-Peregrin 19-39-2-281, 1 TD

Receiving: C:  13-Morales 4-61, 83-Scott 2-61, 5-Edwards 2-21, 80-Silva 1-39, 7-Dove 1-7, 11-Garrett 1-7 B:  7-Lee 6-65, 6-Nunez 5-80, 88-Fielder 3-53, 4-Smith 2-38, 3-Rogers 2-34, 44-Venegas 1-11

Int-Ret Yds: C:  1-Holmes 1-0, 8-B.Walker 1-28 B:  1-Hill 1-23, 2-Camp 1-24

Fum Rec-R Yds: C:  1-Holmes 1-2, 92-Landry 1-0 B:  23-Gamble 1-13, 25-Matthews 1-0

Sacks:    C:  6-Lewis, 35-Anderson 45-Celestine, 77-Gross, 2-Bullock ½, 47-Fine ½ B:  25-Matthews

Punters: C:  22-Johnson 4-34.3 avg  B:  40-Brite 5-33.8 avg

Kick Ret: C:  1-Holmes 1-24 B:  1-Hill 1-16

Punt Ret: C:  1-Holmes 2-55 B:  none

Missed FG: C:  none B:  11-Martinez 27 yds (wide right)

Notes:  Canyons ent. 11-0, #1 seed in South, #2 JC Grid-Wire.  Bakersfield ent. 9-2, #4 seed, #9 JCGW.  It was an extremely windy night.  Holmes' 52-yd punt return set up COC's 3rd TD right before halftime.  Holmes later muffed a punt, which Matthews recovered for BC, but Holmes made up for it by grabbing his interception on the next play.  This is COC's 26th straight win, 36th straight home win and 41st straight win over a WSC opponent.

 


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