SANTA CLARITA, Calif. - With the momentum of a strong defensive effort - which resulted in 23 points scored off of turnovers - College of the Canyons put together a second half surge to beat Antelope Valley College 37-14 on Saturday night at Cougar Stadium.
The non-conference victory over the Marauders improved COC to 5-1 giving the program its best start since the 2008 season when Canyons posted a 10-0 regular season record.
The COC defense limited the Marauders to 229 yards of total offense, while forcing a pair of interceptions along with two fumbles. All of the Marauders’ first-half drives ended in punts, while in the second half, seven of the nine possessions resulted in turnovers or punts.
Canyons and Antelope Valley played to a scoreless first half, but the action quickly picked up in the third quarter.
On AVC’s first drive of the second half, COC sophomore Kent Ingram picked off an AVC pass and returned it 12 yards to the Marauder 13-yard line. Three Matt Bowen carries later, Canyons was in the end zone on a 9-yard scoring scamper to put the Cougars up 7-0.
On the ensuing Marauder drive, COC sophomore Antonio Guy literally yanked the ball out of the hands of a Marauder running back to give Canyons the ball on Antelope Valley’s 39-yard line. Freshman Jake Dashnaw only needed one play - a 39-yard pass to sophomore Dan Vear - and the Cougars were up 14-0 with 10:36 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing drive AVC finally got on the board with a 64-yard touchdown pass to pull to within seven points of the Cougars. But just four plays later, Dashnaw found a streaking Kwasi Washington in the left corner of the end zone for an 18-yard score, pushing the score to 21-7.
The Cougars would extend their lead to 24-7 at the 4:57 mark of the third quarter as freshman Eric Kreitz hit a 31-yard field goal, on his second attempt of the evening.
Canyons added two more scores in the fourth quarter - a 3-yard touchdown punch for Da’John Gaines and a 9-yard scoring carry for freshman Stephen Rice - which proved to be too much for the Marauders to sustain.
Sophomore running back Bowen also chipped in with 77 rushing yards and a score, while Dashnaw finished the night going 14-of-25 for 210 yards and a score, and no interceptions. Vear led all COC receivers with three catches for 96 yards and a TD.
COC freshman and Hart High School graduate Austin Murillo had a career night with seven solo tackles, including two for a loss. Freshman linebacker Ryan McAleenan turned in six tackles and a sack, while sophomore linebacker Joey Cicoria had six tackles and a pass break up.
The Cougars will next travel to Ventura College on Saturday, Oct. 19, for what should be the deciding game for the conference championship. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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