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COC football gets blown out to end season

Cougars lose 56-17 in National Bowl

Posted: November 23, 2013 11:04 p.m.
Updated: November 23, 2013 11:04 p.m.

College of the Canyons tight end Dan Vear breaks away from Fullerton defenders on Saturday afternoon at Yorba Linda High School.

 

YORBA LINDA — There were 94 players, 16 coaches, a band, a furry Hornet mascot, a TV crew, two-dozen cheerleaders and a 15-game winning streak dating back to the middle of last season.

That was the sum total of the Fullerton College football machine coming into the Southern California regional semifinals, and it added up to trouble for College of the Canyons.

Fullerton emerged from halftime with an 11-point lead and scored five unanswered touchdowns, crushing Canyons 56-17 in the National Bowl on Saturday at Yorba Linda High’s Nathan Shapell Memorial Stadium.

COC linebacker Joey Cicoria said his team struggled on both sides against the Hornets, whose smallest offensive lineman checked in at 315 pounds.

“You could say we didn’t get lucky bounces, but we’ve got to earn them,” Cicoria said. “When you’re not getting enough blocks and not making tackles, things aren’t going to go your way.”

Fullerton (11-0) made its own breaks, including a successful fake-punt play on fourth-and-12 that set up the team’s second touchdown.

Punter Anthony Martinez threw a perfect spiral to defensive back Alex Bernstein that went for 39 yards and put the Cougars (8-3) on their heels.

“That was something we saw on tape. We were going to run it if we saw the look we got,” said Fullerton head coach Tim Byrnes.

Hornets running back Nick Norman gave his team three rushing touchdowns, and teammate Ryan Byrd added scoring runs of 71 and 63 yards.

COC’s first-half scoring came on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Tony Dawson to Dan Vear and Eric Kreitz’s 32-yard field goal.

Jake Dashnaw, Dawson’s backup, closed out the contest with a 5-yard scoring toss to Vear.

COC came into the season with two freshman quarterbacks, a crackerjack defensive unit and a new head coach in Ted Iacenda, who was tasked with revitalizing a program that enjoyed only limited success over the past two years.

The campaign began with an overtime loss at Golden West in a game where the Cougars had the potential winning field goal blocked with two seconds left in regulation.

The team regrouped, reeling off eight straight wins, including decisive victories over Bakersfield, Ventura and Cerritos. Canyons book-ended the regular season with a loss to Hancock.

Iacenda said his players were faced with significant challenges but ultimately prevailed.

“These young men were thrown into a tough situation with a new head coach,” he said. “I can’t thank the sophomores enough. They bought into what I was selling, and we had a great year as a result.”

Fullerton will host Riverside City College in the So Cal title game Saturday at 1 p.m. at Yorba Linda High, with the winner traveling north to take on either Butte College (10-0) or Fresno City College (7-3) for the state championship Dec. 14.

NOTES: In the postgame National Bowl awards ceremony, COC running back Matt Bowen was honored as the Offensive Player of the Game. Bowen, appearing in his final game in a Cougar uniform, ran for 104 yards on 23 carries, making it the fifth game in a row that he rushed for more than 100 yards … Fullerton defensive lineman Antoine Turner was named Defensive Player of the Game. Turner, a sophomore from New Orleans, registered 6 tackles and 3 sacks … Hornets sophomore running back Ryan Byrd was named the game’s Most Valuable Player in recognition of his 13 carries that went for 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns … Fullerton quarterback Jose Escobar was an efficient 11-of-15 for 162 yards. Escobar, a sophomore from John Glenn High in Norwalk, did not throw a touchdown pass or an interception … COC signal-caller Tony Dawson completed 9-of-17 passes for 88 yards, a touchdown and an interception … Dan Vear was the Canyons leading receiver with 4 catches for 48 yards and 2 scores … Fullerton was led by wide receiver Eli Pleasant, who reeled in 3 passes for 80 yards. His longest went for 68 yards … Fullerton placekicker Ian Boozer was a perfect 8-of-8 on extra-point attempts … COC’s leading tackler was freshman linebacker Ryan McAleenan, who tallied 11 (4 unassisted). Linebacker and Hart High graduate Joey Cicoria had 8 (1 unassisted), while linebacker Kenneth Jacobs, a freshman from Quartz Hill High, had 8 (2 unassisted) … Fullerton’s Denzel Talifero (Duarte High), Shawn Stephens and Antoine Turner each turned in 6 tackles … The Cougars converted on only 1-of-12 third downs. Fullerton was successful on 6-of-13 tries … Fullerton had 603 total offensive yards to COC’s 235 … The weather at game time was 65 degrees, breezy and party cloudy. The attendance was estimated at 1,200.

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