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Poised performance for COC football

Posted: September 14, 2013 10:45 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2013 10:45 p.m.

West Ranch graduate and College of the Canyons player Gabe Peralta turns the corner against Saddleback College on Saturday night at Saddleback College on a 3-yard touchdown run.

 

MISSION VIEJO — It’s tough to rattle this College of the Canyons team.

After spotting the No. 4 ranked team in the state a 14-point lead, the COC Cougars stood tall on defense and rallied back for a 31-28 victory over the Saddleback Gauchos on Saturday night at Saddleback College.

In a game where the Cougars (1-1) swarmed on defense and applied constant pressure on the quarterback, it was fittingly a defensive stop at the 2-yard line in bounds that let the final seconds tick away.

That came shortly after Eric Kreitz gave COC the lead with a 36-yard field goal at the 3:26 mark of the fourth quarter. On Saddleback’s ensuing drive, Hart graduate Joey Cicoria picked off quarterback Tim Belman on another drive deep into COC territory.

“Sometimes it just goes your way,” said Cicoria, who also had 10 tackles. “If you keep working and keep doing things right, the bounces don’t always go your way, but when they do, you’ve got to be ready.”

The win marks the first win for rookie head coach Ted Iacenda, whose team lost 27-21 in overtime to Golden West in last week’s season opener.

“The character of this team is unlike any I’ve had in my years of coaching,” said COC head coach Ted Iacenda. “These kids believe.”

The Cougars not only had to bounce back from last week’s loss, they also had to overcome an early 14-0 deficit after the Gauchos marched down the field to score on their first two drives of the game.

Tony Dawson started the game at quarterback for COC, but after fumbling the ball away late in the first quarter, he was replaced after by Jake Dashnaw.

Both quarterbacks also played last week as well, but Dashnaw got the majority of the snaps this time around after he engineered three straight scoring drives to help give the Cougars a 21-14 lead midway through the second quarter.

All three of those scores went to wide receiver Travion Tucker. Two were 22-yard passes thrown by Dashnaw and another was a 51-yard strike from usual wideout Louis Gipson on a halfback pass.

It was tied 21-21 at the half.

Tucker ended up with eight catches for 172 yards and Dashnaw finished 13-for-31 for 169 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception, which was returned 51 yards by Devontae Merriweather for a Saddleback touchdown in the third quarter.

COC’s defense didn’t allow a single offensive point in the second half. Belman finished 41-of-66 for 383 yards, two touchdowns and the one interception.

“We needed to settle down,” Cicoria said. “We kind of settled down and played defense the way we know how.”

With the Cougars trailing by 28-21 late in the third quarter, Gabe Peralta flushed to his left and dove into the end zone for a 3-yard tying score on his only snap of the game at quarterback for COC.

dagnew@signalscv.com

 

 

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