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COC races by Valley College

Cougars rebound from tough loss at Santa Barbara to dominate Monarchs 59-7

Posted: September 20, 2009 12:20 a.m.
Updated: September 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons linebacker Gary Johnson (44) returns an interception back to the L.A. Valley 2-yard line during a 59-7 win Saturday at L.A. Valley College.

One week ago, College of the Canyons football was stunned by Santa Barbara City College, a team everyone expected it to beat.

One week later, the only thing more stunning was how convincingly the team had moved on.

Driven by five touchdowns by their running backs, three from Valencia graduate Nick Hale alone, the Cougars easily dispatched of Los Angeles Valley College 59-7 on Saturday night at Los Angeles Valley College.

Hale finished the game with 12 carries for 148 yards rushing, 94 of which came in the first half.

"I think (the win) makes a statement," said the 5-foot-11-inch, 215-pound running back. "It shows that we are still the Cougars and that we can still put points on the board."

After last week's 17-14 loss at Santa Barbara City College, COC (2-1) fell from fifth in the California Community College Football Coaches Association state rankings to 20th.

"There is definitely going to be adversity in life. It's your job to handle it," said College of the Canyons head coach Garett Tujague.

"I can imagine we will face more adversity. They will have to respond."

COC opened up a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter when Hale took a 4th-and-1 toss from Morales around the right side and into the end zone from 11 yards out.

The score was set up by a 23-yard pass from Morales to wide receiver Mario Wright, a Saugus graduate, and a 17-yard run up the middle by Hale. A few plays later, Hale punched it in.

Valley (0-3) responded a few minutes later when Brett Visciglia, the Monarchs' returning all-conference first team quarterback, hit wide receiver Travion Odom just inside the front pylon for the 30-yard score.

Odom was Valley's top performer on the evening with 13 receptions for 207 yards.

On the ensuing possession, the Cougars marched from their own 20-yard line to the Valley 32. On third and nine, Morales handed the ball off to sophomore running back B.J. Iverson, who burst up middle and in for the score.

"That's the old COC," Iverson said, pointing out the strong play of his offensive line. "We play as a team, we win as a team."

Iverson was the team's leading receiver with 11 receptions for 62 yards.

Then it was the defense's turn to make a statement.

First, Cougar defensive lineman Kourtney Bennett sacked Visciglia near midfield. A few plays later, linebacker Gary Johnson intercepted the Visciglia at the Valley 48 and returned it to the 3-yard line.

"They play with all-out tenacity to get to the football," Tujague said referring to his defense and its three-interception performance. "It's definitely a matter of will."

Two plays later, Hale punched the ball into in for the score and COC extended its lead to 21-7 with 14:18 in the second quarter.

"Football can be a real simple game," Tujague said. "If you can run the ball, why stop?"

After another Hale touchdown on a 49-yard sprint and a James Rodriguez field goal from 27 yards out, COC took a 31-7 lead into halftime.

COC wasted little time getting back on the board in the second half.

Two minutes into the third quarter, Morales hit wide receiver Mychal Rivera on quick slant across the middle for a 12-yard touchdown.

Morales finished with 151 passing yards and a touchdown.

On the next drive, COC defensive back Lequan Williams blocked the Monarchs' punt, and Cougar defensive back Eluimable Baptiste picked up the loose ball, bounced off a tackler and sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown to make the lead 45-7.

COC turned to its running game in order to wind down the clock, leaning on running back Ryan Zirbel, who eventually scored from the 2 to put the Cougars up 52-7 early in the fourth quarter.

The final score came when Barney O'Donnell III, in for Morales at quarterback, hit Saugus grad Justin Monson from 17 yards out.

"We want to make sure we make a bigger statement next week," Morales said.


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