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COC displays its power

Cougars pull away from Antelope Valley in strong 2nd half

Posted: October 12, 2013 11:20 p.m.
Updated: October 12, 2013 11:20 p.m.

College of the Canyons linebacker Kenneth Jacobs (52) recovers an Antelope Valley College fumble to set up a score for COC in the fourth quarter at COC on Saturday. Teammate Matt Freeman (94) looks on.

It’s no secret that football can be a game of seemingly arbitrary momentum swings, and Saturday night’s contest at College of the Canyons between the host Cougars and visiting Antelope Valley College only served to solidify that dogma.

During the first half, neither team was able to put points on the scoreboard. During the second half, the Marauders were unable to keep state No. 11 ranked Canyons out of the end zone, with impact plays from a stout Cougars defense keying a 37-14 victory at COC.

“Our defense carried us in the first half,” said COC head coach Ted Iacenda. “Two big turnovers by our offense, that’s not like us.”

Antelope Valley was effective when it had to be during the first half on Saturday, allowing the Cougars to move the ball but holding strong on critical third downs to keep the game knotted at zero.

The Marauders generated the game’s first legitimate scoring opportunity when they recovered a fumble on the Cougars 22-yard line with 11:30 in the first quarter, but the Cougars’ defense was equally up to the task and came up big with two straight tackles for loss to drive Antelope Valley out of scoring range.

“We know that on defense it’s as simple as staying disciplined and working hard,” said COC lineman Antonio Guy. “I’m so proud of this team and how we buy into each other and stay focused, we just keep fighting.”

The determination of the Cougars speedy defense proved to be what turned the game around in the third quarter, where in a span of 10 minutes the Cougars put 24 points on the board behind three turnovers by Antelope Valley.

The eventful sequence began when Cougars sophomore Kent Ingram returned an interception of Marauders quarterback Anders Westlund to the Antelope Valley 13-yard line with 12:25 remaining in the third quarter. Two plays later, Cougars running back Matt Bowen scored from 12 yards out to put the first points on the board and bring the score to 7-0.

Less than a minute later, Guy blew up a read-option play and stripped the ball before being tackled at the Antelope Valley 25-yard line.

On the ensuing play, Cougars quarterback Jake Dashnaw found tight end Dan Vear in the end zone to open up a two touchdown lead with 10:36 remaining in the third quarter. Dashnaw finished 14-for-25 for 210 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.

On the following series, the Marauders (2-3) saw their only explosive play of the night take shape when Westlund found receiver Hunter Sharp for a 64-yard touchdown pass to bring Antelope Valley within a touchdown. As good as the Cougars’ defense was on Saturday night, Sharp proved to be a mismatch, reeling in six catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

That was as close as the Marauders were going to get as the Cougars reeled off 16 straight points to bring the contest to 30-7 and put any chances of a comeback to rest.

“I drive here 45 minutes every day to be a part of this program because I know it’s competitive and makes me earn my keep,” said Cougars linebacker Kenneth Jacobs, who recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter that eventually resulted in a COC touchdown. “We are so well conditioned. I bet you can ask a lot of guys out here and they’d say that they could go out and play another game right now.”

But slow starts and battles of attrition are dangerous for the resurgent Cougars (5-1) to become comfortable with heading into a showdown with a Ventura team that will not afford as many opportunities as Antelope Valley next week.

“When I came into this program I didn’t think about the wins and the losses,” Iacenda said. “I knew I was walking into a program with players who were disciplined and committed, and the results have come as an extension of those attributes.”

With a win over defending league champion Ventura, the Cougars, led by a defense that has allowed just 14.5 points per game this season, will jockey themselves into a favorable position to capture their first league title since 2008.

So how will COC approach next week’s critical matchup?

“We are going to have to figure that out,” Iacenda said.


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