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Cougs returning to form

Defense attempts to continue strong play tonight against Allan Hancock

Posted: October 2, 2009 7:51 p.m.
Updated: October 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons' defense lines up against Los Angeles Valley College on Sept. 19. COC's defense will need another strong performance tonight as it matches up with undefeated Allan Hancock.

This was the College of the Canyons football team people were expecting.

Since a shocking loss Sept. 12 to Santa Barbara City College, a team that is now 1-3, the Cougars have won two consecutive games, including last Saturday’s 26-13 victory over Fullerton College, which was ranked fifth in the state at the time.

Now COC, currently No. 14 in the state and 3-1, gets another tough opponent, ninth-ranked and undefeated Allan Hancock College tonight at 7 p.m. at Cougar Stadium.

So coming off a big victory, how do the Cougars not get too high from that win?

“Remember a couple weeks ago we thought we were all that and a bag of chips,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague. “We’re moving on. (The loss) was a great life lesson — fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”

That loss still resonates if Tujague is still bringing it up.

COC is now dedicated to finishing out the season without another loss.

It takes on a greater level of meaning now because the Hancock game is both teams’ National Division, Northern Conference opener.

The Cougars went 6-0 in conference en route to the National Division, Northern Conference title in 2008.

The Bulldogs (4-0), though, pose quite a challenge for COC. They are a very balanced team — 14th in the state in total offense, 17th in total defense.

“Offensively, they’re physical. They’re known for running the football,” Tujague said. “Their defense, I like the way they play. They’re aggressive. They’re fast. They get to the football.”

Last week, the passing game deserved a lot of credit for the Bulldogs’ 48-23 victory over Citrus College.

Hancock sophomore quarterback Gunner Jespersen was 18-of-23 for 305 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Marquelo Suel was the main target as he hauled in nine passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

Prior to last week, it had been the running game that led the way. Hancock has 940 rushing yards on the season, led by Ryan Anglin’s 389 yards.

Hancock’s defense has been very aggressive, netting 17 sacks thus far, with 4.5 coming from 308-pound defensive lineman Carlos Faumuina and four from linebacker Isiah Anderson.

The Bulldogs have also forced 12 turnovers.

The Cougars, though, may be coming off their best defensive effort of the season.

Fullerton came into last week’s game averaging 49.3 points per game.

“I knew they were capable of that, but they did a great job — great leadership,” Tujague said of his defense. “Just to see how all those sophomores worked hard for two years, to watch their energy and efforts off the field pay off on the field.”

A couple of players stood out defensively last week for COC — Antwan Smith, who led the team with 10 tackles and a sack, and Kalen Powell and Arron Fisher. Powell intercepted a pass on the last play of the game and lateraled to Fisher who scored a touchdown as time expired.

Offensively, though, COC couldn’t get much going with its ground game, picking up 106 yards on 35 carries. But quarterback Justin Morales was steady, completing 19-of-26 passes for 187 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Morales will start again tonight, but Tujague said sophomore quarterback Eric Brown, who started COC’s first game, could see some action.



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