Canyons Enters Playoffs As Top Seed

Joey Frias (Photo), substituting for injured starter Brad McClellan, ran for one TD and passed for another, and Ricky Drake kicked three field goals as College of the Canyons (10-0, 7-0) nailed down the top seed in the Southern California playoffs with a 22-8 win over Northern Conf. rival Bakersfield (4-6, 3-4) Sat. at Memorial Stadium in Bakersfield.

And combined with Navarro’s loss earlier in the day, COC figures to ascend to the top spot in the JC Grid-Wire entering the postseason.

It wasn’t pretty, and the usually-overpowering Canyons offense struggled at times, but the Cougars never trailed and really weren’t threatened after Drake’s second field goal early in the fourth quarter.  Frias was quite efficient, completing 17 of 25 passes for 244 yards, with Minnesota commit Hayo Carpenter once again leading all receivers with a 9-catch, 131-yard effort.  That helped offset the Cougars’ troubles in establishing the running game or keeping the Bakersfield defense away from Frias; Canyons netted just 54 yards on the ground for the day and the Renegade defense registered 7 quarterback sacks.

Canyons scored a touchdown on its first possession of the day, and led the rest of the way, though the margin was just one score until Drake’s 35-yard field goal, the shortest of his three field goals, with 12:47 left in the game.  On that first drive, Frias completed his first 5 passes of the day before covering the final 19 yards of the drive himself on the ground.  His 11-yard scoring run gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead with 9:03 left in the first quarter.

After that, neither team scored the rest of the half until the final minute of the second quarter.  Bakersfield got a good opportunity when Chuckie Covington snatched a Frias pass out of the hands of receiver D.J. Stephens for an interception at the Canyons 40, but the offense failed to move the ball any further.  Canyons drove to the Bakersfield 35 early in the second quarter, but turned the ball over on downs when Fred Winborn was thrown for a 1-yard loss on 4th and 3 at the 35.  Then Bakersfield drove inside the Canyons 30, but also turned the ball over on downs when quarterback Joseph Maldonado was thrown for a 1-yard loss by the Cougars’ Tavaris Roberts.

Finally, Canyons got on the board again with 31 seconds left in the first half on a booming 51-yard field goal by Drake that looked like it would have been good from at least 60 yards.  That capped a 13-play drive that began after the stop on Maldonado, and made it 10-0 at the half.

When the second half began, Canyons increased its lead quickly.  First, C.J. Atkins took the second half kickoff and returned it 73 yards to the Bakersfield 17, prevented from scoring only by the saving tackle from behind by Bakersfield’s James Williams.  But on the very next play, Frias threw to Carpenter in the left corner of the end zone, with Hayo just getting the ball across the line for the 17-yard touchdown catch.  Bakersfield’s Maurice Hayes blocked the extra point, and Devin Pruett picked up the ball for the Renegades and started up the field before being corralled by holder Nate Jones for the Cougars.

Now trailing 16-0, Bakersfield answered that touchdown with a scoring drive of its own, thanks mostly to the strong running of Bruce Frieson, who would lead all rushers with 107 yards on 18 carries on the day.  The 5-9 sophomore carried 5 times on the drive for 34 yards, and also caught a 28-yard pass.  His 6-yard touchdown run made it 16-6, and on the conversion Maldonado threw to Andre Smith Jr. for a 2-point conversion to make it 16-8.

But that would be Bakersfield’s only score of the game.  The Renegades drove to the Cougar 29 on their next drive, but then faced a 4th and 4.  On that play, Canyons’ Roberts made another big play, throwing Maldonado for a 4-yard loss and giving the Cougars the ball at their 33.  Then came a 12-play drive for Canyons, which consisted mostly of short runs except for three mid-range passes to Carpenter that totaled 48 yards.  That led to Drake’s 35-yard field goal with 12:47 left that made it 19-8.

Bakersfield got the ball back twice more after that, but lost possession on downs each time.  The Renegades drove to the Cougars’ 35 on their next drive after an 18-yard run by Smith that was accompanied by a personal foul facemask penalty on Canyons (in response to an impressive stiff-arm by Smith) that got the ball to the 42.  But on 4th down, Canyons’ Jermar Cushnie threw Smith for a 5-yard loss on a play that was compromised by a high snap, giving Canyons the ball at the 40. 

Then after a Cougar punt, Bakersfield got the ball at its own 10.  After one first down, the Renegades faced a 4th and 10 from their own 22, but trailing by two scores with just over five minutes left, elected to go for the first down.  Following three Cougar timeouts, the play finally began, but Maldonado’s pass fell incomplete.  That allowed Canyons to add three more points on a Drake field goal from 44 yards out with 2:29 left, accounting for the game’s final scoring.  Moments later, Maldonado’s final pass attempt of the afternoon was intercepted by Canyons’ Zachary Santos, sealing the win for the Cougars.

With the win, Canyons finishes the regular season 10-0, the only undefeated team in Southern California this year.  They will host a playoff game next Saturday against either Antelope Valley or San Diego Mesa.  Bakersfield finishes the season 4-6, a far cry from last year’s 12-1 squad that reached the Southern California championship game.


Thanks to Mae in the BC ticket office for accommodating a last-second addition to their media contingent!  I’d planned on heading to El Camino before the wildfire closed the 5 Fwy, causing a last-moment audible.  But the hospitality of the folks at BC was exceptional, as always!

College of the Canyons Cougars 22
Bakersfield Renegads 8

Saturday, November 15, 2008 - 3 pm - Memorial Stadium - Bakersfield
National Division- Northern Conference

1st Quarter:    
C - Frias 11 yd run (Drake kick) 9:03 (7-0)

2nd Quarter:   
C - FG Drake 51 yds 0:13 (10-0)

3rd Quarter:   
C - Carpenter 17 yd pass from Frias (kick blocked) 14:36 (16-0)
B - Frieson 6 yd run (A.Smith pass from Maldonado) 9:21 (16-8)

4th Quarter:    
C - FG Drake 35 yds 12:47 (19-8)
C - FG Drake 44 yds 2:29 (22-8)

Team Statistics:
First Downs:  Bakersfield 12 (10 rush, 2 pass), Canyons 19 (8 rush, 10 pass, 1 penalty)
Rushes-Yds:  Bakersfield 40-192, Canyons 40-54
Passing Yds:  Bakersfield 54, Canyons 244
Comp-Att-Int:  Bakersfield 6-19-1, Canyons 17-25-1
Return Yds:  Bakersfield 86, Canyons 86
Sacks-Yds:  Bakersfield 7-59, Canyons 0-0
Fumbles-Lost:  Bakersfield 0-0, Canyons 1-0
Penalties-Yds:  Bakersfield 4-35, Canyons 4-42
Time of Possession:  Bakersfield 29:13, Canyons 30:47
Individual Statistics:
Rushing:  Bakersfield 23-Frieson 18-107, 2-A.Smith 10-43, 7-Gauthier 2-16, 22-Peralta 2-7, 3-Maldonado 4-6, 31-Jackson 1-2, 45-Tavorn 2-2, team 1-(-1): Canyons 10-Winborn 20-52, 13-Frias 20-2
Passing:   Bakersfield 3-Maldonado 4-11-1-48; 7-Gauthier 2-7-0-6; 22-Peralta 0-1-0-0; Canyons 13-Frias 17-25-1-244, 1 TD
Receiving:   Bakersfield 23-Frieson 2-26, 14-Randle 2-13, 2-A.Smith 1-8, 1-Madu 1-7; Canyons 9-Carpenter 9-131, 6-Leacock 5-77, 10-Winborn 1-39, 1-N.Jones 1-0, 45-Quinn 1-(-3)
Interceptions-Ret Yds:  Bakersfield 13-Covington 1-0; Canyons 23-Santos 1-13
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds:  none
Sacks-Yds:  Bakersfield 92-Crawford 2-20, 94-Woods 2-15, 57-Chavez 1-10, 98-Hayes 1-8, 11-Pruett 1-6; Canyons none
Punters:   Bakersfield 16-Mahan 4-42.0 avg; Canyons 16-Drake 3-40.7 avg
Kick Returns:  Bakersfield 13-Covington 2-48, 2-A.Smith 1-24, 31-Jackson 1-14; Canyons 89-Atkins 1-73
Punt Returns:  none
Missed FG:  none

Notes:  Canyons entered 9-0, 6-0 in Northern Conference, ranked #2 nationally (JC Grid-Wire) and #1 in South (COA).  Bakersfield entered 4-5 overall, 3-3 in conference.  Frias started at QB for COC in place of the injured Brad McClellan (shoulder).  Gauthier started for BC but left in favor of Maldonado after taking a big hit at the end of a 16-yd run, BC’s longest play of the 1st half, midway through the second quarter.  Covington snatched the ball from 11-Stephens’ hands for his int; Stephens atoned for that later by recovering a Frias fumble.  Carpenter’s TD came one play after Atkins’ big kickoff return to start the second half.  Hayes blocked the extra point, and Pruett picked up the ball and carried it to about the 40 before being stopped by 1-Jones (the holder on the XPA).  COC now leads the series vs. Bakersfield, 5-4, after BC won twice last season, including a SoCal semifinal.  Attendance - 3,376.

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