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Cougars, Hornets renew wild rivalry

COC looks to continue rebound against state’s No. 5 team

Posted: September 25, 2009 11:58 p.m.
Updated: September 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

They might have been the most exciting community college football games in the state the last two seasons.

And it would be no surprise if it were one of the most exciting games this season.

College of the Canyons (2-1) and Fullerton College (3-0) resume what has turned into quite a rivalry the last couple of the seasons when the Cougars host the Hornets at 7 p.m. today.

The Cougars survived last season’s meeting, despite Fullerton driving deep into COC territory late in the fourth quarter.

Fullerton fumbled on the COC 18-yard line with 1:28 left in the game. The Cougars recovered and held on for a 34-28 win.

They weren’t as fortunate in 2007, as COC blew an 18-point third-quarter lead and lost 32-31.

“Talk about great games,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague. “It’s been a battle and it’s usually come down to the last few plays of the game. They’re a well-coached team. They have good athletes. It’s a good program and we’re evenly matched as far as ability and talent.”

One commonality that both teams have is they’re deep.

Both COC and Fullerton have been platooning players on both sides of the ball.

Also, both teams are coming off games in which they lit up the scoreboard.

The Hornets pounded Moorpark 70-17 last Saturday, compared to COC’s 59-7 thrashing of Los Angeles Valley College.

But the 70 points and the 49 points per game Fullerton is averaging this season are somewhat deceptive numbers in terms of the offense.

The Hornets are 23rd in the state in total offense.

“The first thing is our defense has been playing well,” explained Fullerton head coach Tim Byrnes. “Special teams have scored a special teams touchdown every game and we’ve been efficient in the red zone.”
Tujague said after watching film, he noticed that Fullerton’s defense has been giving its offense great field position throughout the season.

And on the offensive side, running back Kenny Turner is averaging 6.5 yards per rush, has scored five touchdowns and has 293 rushing yards.

Fullerton, like COC, has shuffled quarterbacks. Kyle Essington and Darius Banks have shared time.

Byrnes said he plans on doing the same thing today.

COC’s Justin Morales took a majority of the snaps at quarterback in the LAVC victory, yet Tujague isn’t ready to anoint him as COC’s starting quarterback.

Also, Nick Hale scored three touchdowns and ran for 148 yards, yet the Cougars are deep at the running back position and Tujague said he plans on working in multiple players.

Tujague said last week’s victory was not a statement game after the Cougars suffered a stunning 17-14 loss to Santa Barbara City College Sept. 12.

It was a sort of recovery.

If there’s a statement to make, it would probably be this game against the state’s No. 5 team.

“Here we are, the two weeks after this catastrophic loss playing a very good football team. We’ll see where we stand,” Tujague said.



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