Canyons Survives Pasadena

In a game that had just about everything, Fred Winborn scored 5 touchdowns to lead College of the Canyons (9-0, 5-0) to a wild 42-41 overtime win over Pasadena (5-4, 3-2) that clinches the National Division's Northern Conference championship for the Cougars.

But it wasn’t easy, as Pasadena scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 35-28 lead, only to see Canyons tie the game again in the final minute of regulation time.  Then in overtime, Winborn scored his 5th touchdown of the night to give the Cougars a 42-35 lead.  Pasadena answered with a touchdown of its own moments later when Eldrin Jones threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Titus Mack.  But the Lancers elected to go for the win on the conversion, and fullback Roman Pula was stopped just short of the goal line, allowing the Cougars to come away with the hard-fought victory.

And even the touchdown wasn’t easy for Canyons, who turned to backup quarterback Joey Frias to lead the offense.  Starter Brad McClellan was unavailable after landing hard on his shoulder while being sacked by Pasadena’s Kyle Butler on the Cougars’ game-tying drive.  McClellan stayed in the game on that drive, which ended with Winborn’s tying touchdown with 54 seconds left, but gave way to Frias when overtime began.

Behind Frias, Canyons scored fairly easily on its overtime possession, with Winborn tallying his 5th score of the night (tying a Canyons’ school record for TDs in a game, and setting a new school mark for rushing TDs) on the 4th play of the drive.  But the extra point was quite eventful, with holder Nate Jones corralling an errant snap and getting it in place just in time for Ricky Drake to kick a wobbly extra point after nearly coming to a complete stop during his approach.

But that ended up being the difference in the game after Pasadena scored a touchdown and was stopped short on its would-be game-winning two-point conversion moments later.

That was just the final chapter in one of the most exciting games of the year in Southern California.  Canyons entered the game as the #2-ranked team in the South, and late in the game the news that #1-ranked Mt. San Antonio had lost came over the public address system.  But a stubborn Pasadena team nearly derailed Cougar plans for the conference-clinching celebration.

Early on, it looked like Canyons was in top form, scoring a pair of touchdowns on its first two possessions, sandwiched around a 3-and-out forced by the Cougar defense.  Winborn scored both touchdowns, from 4 and 7 yards out, the second coming after a spectacular 56-yard catch by Minnesota-bound receiver Hayo Carpenter.

But then Pasadena put together a long drive and cut the margin to 14-7 when Jones threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Titus Mack on a 4th down play.  Still, Canyons answered that with another touchdown, this one coming on an amazing catch by Nate Jones of a Brad McClellan pass over the middle.  The 42-yard scoring play made it 21-7 with 9:14 left in the first half, and it looked like Canyons was going to get the ball right back when just over a minute later Pasadena faced a 4th and 6 from its 22 and lined up to punt.

But on that punt, Canyons was flagged for roughing the punter, giving Pasadena the ball back.  And the Lancers received three more Canyons penalties on the ensuing drive, for a total of 50 yards in all.  The drive ended when Jones threw an incomplete pass on 4th and 5 from the 9, turning the ball over to the Cougars.  But the Cougar offense not only went nowhere, but nearly suffered a safety when McClellan just lunged out of the end zone while being sacked by Zach Falldorf.  Then Drake had to rush his punt, which went just 13 yards, giving the Lancers the ball at the Cougar 14.  Three plays later, Pula powered into the end zone from 5 yards out to make it 21-14, which is where things stood at halftime.

When the second half began, Pasadena had the ball but turned it over when a Jones pass was tipped in the defensive backfield and landed in the hands of Kamuela Brito.  The Cougars then put together a 6-play drive, culminating with Winborn’s third touchdown of the night, which came on a 1-yard run and made it 28-14 just 3:25 into the second half.

And the score remained 28-14 for more than 15 more minutes.  A long Lancer drive ended with an interception in the Cougar end zone by Josh Gibbs on a 4th down play.  But a Canyons drive that could have put the game away also ended with an interception when Cuincy Carruthers snagged a McClellan pass in the end zone.  That came moments after an apparent touchdown pass to Hayo Carpenter was called back on a lineman downfield penalty.

But a moment later, Pasadena was in scoring position after a 73-yard pass from Jones to Owen Dixon.  Canyons’ Anthony Johnson dragged Dixon out of bounds to save the touchdown, but two plays later Pula scored his second touchdown of the night on a 3-yard run.  That made it 28-21 with 11:13 left in the fourth quarter.

Canyons then drove deep into Pasadena territory, reaching the 29 before three penalties, including one for intentional grounding that also included a loss of down, forced a Canyons punt.  Pasadena got the ball at its own 17.  But moments later, Jones threw a screen pass to Joshua Morgan along the left sideline.  The 205-pound back headed downfield, only to be met with what sounded like a pulverizing hit by Canyons’ Zach Santos.  But Morgan not only absorbed the contact, he continued on down the field.  Finally, about 30 yards after the hit, Morgan was corralled.  Then the ball came loose, but Pasadena lineman Jobari Coleman-Wilson alertly fell on the ball at the Cougar 21.  And on the next play, Jones threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Dixon to tie the game at 28 with 4:27 left in the fourth quarter.

Less than a minute later, the silent shock of the Canyons’ faithful turned to horror.  McClellan  threw a short pass to Nate Jones along the left sideline.  But Jones was met immediately by Carruthers, who stripped the ball loose.  Pula was the first to arrive on the scene, scooping up the loose ball and returning it 17 yards for a touchdown that gave Pasadena a 35-28 lead with 3:28 remaining.

Now with the visions of an unbeaten season and perhaps a chance at a national championship slipping away, the Canyons offense went back onto the field.  Things started poorly, however, when yet another penalty (Canyons would finish with 21 penalties for 216 yards) set the Cougars back to their own 15 yard line.  But an 11-yard pass to Carpenter gained one first down.  And then two plays later Winborn broke free for a 55-yard run, reaching the Pasadena 15 before finally being tripped up.  A 5-yard pass from McClellan to fullback Sean Quinn got the Cougars to the Pasadena 10.

On the next play, however, McClellan was hit from his blind side by a blitzing Kyle Butler, who threw the quarterback to the turf for an 8-yard loss.  And apparently McClellan was injured on that play, according to COC Head Coach Garrett Tujague.  But the sophomore stayed in the game, handing the ball off to Winborn for a gain of 12 yards to the 6.  Then McClellan carried the ball on a keeper to the Pasadena 3.  And on the next play, Winborn scored, allowing Drake to tie the game with the extra point with 54 seconds left and setting the stage for the overtime win.

For Canyons, Winborn had a career night, rushing for 243 yards and 5 touchdowns and passing the 1000-yard mark on the season for the second straight year.  McClellan completed 14 of 23 passes for 167 yards and a TD.  But Carpenter, who normally puts up gaudy numbers, had just 4 catches for 90 yards and no touchdowns, thanks largely to the excellent coverage by Pasadena’s Derek Mack, who was assigned to him most of the evening.

For Pasadena, Jones completed 18 of 38 passes but totaled 318 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Titus Mack was his favorite target, hauling in 8 passes for 106 yards and a score.  Dixon had 4 catches for 107 yards and a TD.  Morgan had 3 catches for 77 yards, and also rushed for 49 yards on 14 carries.

The win clinches the Northern Conference championship for the Cougars, who finish the regular season next week against longtime rival Bakersfield.  And with #1-ranked Mt. San Antonio losing to Cerritos, the Cougars figure to move up to the top spot in the Southern California poll as they are the lone remaining unbeaten team in the region.

The loss drops Pasadena to 5-4 overall, with three of the losses coming to the teams that entered the night as the top three teams in Southern California.  The Lancers are now 3-2 in the conference, and will finish the regular season next Saturday against Glendale.  With Allan Hancock’s win tonight, hey are out of the playoff race, but still have hope of being invited to a postseason bowl game.
College of the Canyons Cougars 42        (OT)
Pasadena Lancers 41                

Saturday, November 8, 2008 - 7 pm - Cougar Stadium - Santa Clarita
National Division- Northern Conference

1st Quarter:    
C - Winborn 4 yd run (Drake kick) 10:25 (7-0)
C - Winborn 7 yd run (Drake kick) 6:50 (14-0)

2nd Quarter:   
P - Carraway 6 yd pass from E.Jones (Bermudes kick) 14:04 (14-7)
C - N.Jones 42 yd pass from McClellan (Drake kick) 9:14 (21-7)
P - Pula 5 yd run (Bermudes kick) 0:43 (21-14)

3rd Quarter:   
C - Winborn 1 yd run (Drake kick) 11:35 (28-14)

4th Quarter:    
P - Pula 3 yd run (Bermudes kick) 11:13 (28-21)
P - Dixon 21 yd pass from E.Jones (Bermudes kick) 4:27 (28-28)
P - Pula 17 yd fumble return (Bermudes kick) 3:28 (28-35)
C - Winborn 3 yd run (Drake kick) 0:54 (35-35)

C - Winborn 7 yd run (Drake kick) (42-35)
P - T.Mack 11 yd pass from E.Jones (run failed) (42-41)

Team Statistics:
First Downs:  Canyons 24 (15 rush, 6 pass, 3 penalty), Pasadena 21 (5 rush, 12 pass, 4 penalty)
Rushes-Yds:  Canyons 47-274, Pasadena 31-75
Passing Yds:  Canyons 169, Pasadena 318
Comp-Att-Int:  Canyons 15-24-1, Pasadena 18-38-2
Return Yds:  Canyons 48, Pasadena 131
Sacks-Yds:  Canyons 2-8, Pasadena 4-33
Fumbles-Lost:  Canyons 3-1, Pasadena 2-0
Penalties-Yds:  Canyons 21-216, Pasadena 18-131
Time of Possession:  Canyons 27:53, Pasadena 32:07
Individual Statistics:
Rushing:  Canyons 10-Winborn 28-243, 13-Frias 2-16, 7-McClellan 16-13, 9-Carpenter 1-2;
Pasadena 20-Morgan 14-49, 14-E.Jones 14-15, 44-Pula 3-11
Passing:   Canyons 7-McClellan 14-23-1-167, 1 TD; Frias 1-1-0-2; Pasadena 14-E.Jones 18-38-2-318, 3 TDs
Receiving:   Canyons 9-Carpenter 4-90, 10-Winborn 3-3, 1-N.Jones 2-35, 45-Quinn 2-20, 6-Leacock 2-15, 11-Stephens 2-6; Pasadena 13-T.Mack 8-106, 1-Dixon 4-107, 20-Morgan 3-77, 12-Carraway 2-20, 17-Stokeling 1-8
Interceptions-Ret Yds:  Canyons 28-Brito 1-13, 26-Gibbs 1-0; Pasadena 31-Carruthers 1-4
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds:  Pasadena 44-Pula 1-17
Sacks-Yds:  Canyons 93-Jackson 1-6, 56-Jermar Cushnie 1-2; Pasadena 90-Grayson 1-12, 23-Butler 1-8, 44-Pula 1-7, 55-Falldorf 1-6
Punters:   Canyons 16-Drake 4-30.8 avg; Pasadena 39-Blevens 3-28.8 avg
Kick Returns:  Canyons 9-Carpenter 2-13, 34-Francisco 1-16, 82-Burke 1-8, 86-Pittman 1-(-2);
Pasadena 4-Palmer 4-64, 22-D’antignac 1-27
Punt Returns:  Canyons none; Pasadena 13-T.Mack 1-19

Notes:  Canyons entered 8-0, 4-0 in Northern Conference, ranked #3 nationally (JC Grid-Wire) and #2 in South (COA).  Pasadena entered 5-3, 3-1 in conference and ranked #12 in South (COA).  WOW what a game!  Early on it looked like a COC romp with 2 TDs on offense sandwiched around a 3-and-out by PCC.  Even at 21-7 COC seemed in control.  But then the penalties started piling up, including a roughing the kicker penalty that prolonged a PCC drive, starting a sequence that ended with Pula’s 1st TD.  Brito’s int led to COC’s 4th TD.  But then came the Pasadena comeback.  A 73-yd pass from E.Jones to Dixon set up PCC’s 3rd TD.  A 59-yd pass to Morgan, who kept going after a HUGE hit by 23-Santos but fumbled at the end of the run (72-Coleman-Wilson recovered the loose ball) set up the tying TD.  Carruthers stripped the ball from N.Jones on Pula’s go-ahead TD return.  Then COC drove to tie the game, despite McClellan sustaining an injury on Butler’s sack three plays before Winborn’s tying TD.  In OT, Frias quarterbacked COC, and Winborn scored his 5th TD of the night to tie the COC record (and set a new school record for rushing TDs in a game).  Drake made the XPA thanks to a superb hold by N.Jones, who had to corral an errant snap.  That turned out to be important since PCC went for 2 points after the TD in OT, and Pula was stopped inside the 1 by the Cougar defense.  This win clinches the Northern Conference for Canyons, who will presumably ascend to the #1 ranking in the regional poll since current #1 Mt. SAC lost tonight. 

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