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Bulldogs outmuscle COC

College of the Canyons struggles to find end zone in overtime loss to Allan Hancock

Posted: October 4, 2009 12:46 a.m.
Updated: October 4, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Allan Hancock College wide receiver Marquelo Suel (1) gets by College of the Canyons defensive backs Kalen Powell (15) and Larry Smith (23) on Saturday during the Cougars' 19-16 loss to the undefeated Bulldogs in overtime.

College of the Canyons football team knew it was going to have to battle in order to beat undefeated Allan Hancock College.

What the Cougars were not ready to overcome were missed opportunities.

COC failed to convert on three drives inside the 5-yard line and Hancock running back Thomas Sua scored from 1 yard out to beat the Cougars 19-16 in overtime in both teams’ National Division, Northern Conference opener on Saturday at Cougar Stadium.

“They are a good football team, and I think we maybe had underestimated them,” said Cougars head coach Garett Tujague of the Bulldogs.

“They made some great plays. They work hard. I got to tell you, when you play Allan Hancock College, you better be ready to tackle, which we were. You better be ready to meet their physicality, and we didn’t do that for 60 minutes.”

Heading into overtime, the Bulldogs (5-0, 1-0) won the toss and elected to kickoff.

Both teams received an opportunity to score, each starting from the 25-yard line.

The Cougars’ possession culminated in a 28-yard field goal by kicker James Rodriguez, which he snuck just inside the left upright.

But Sua’s 1-yard score lifted Hancock past COC on the ensuing drive. Sua finished with nine carries for 16 yards.

“This is a real good football team right here,” said Hancock head coach Kris Dutra as he pointed at the Cougars. “These guys got a lot of heart. I’ve got a lot of respect for College of the Canyons — always have.”

The Cougars (3-2, 0-1) struggled to get things going offensively for most of the game, but they found a spark midway through the fourth quarter.

Down 13-6 with 7:24 to go in the game, COC quarterback Justin Morales found wide receiver D.J. Stephens down the sideline for a 36-yard touchdown.

“It was an on-the-go play,” Stephens said. “We called a time out, had some time to think it over. I knew the corner was going to back on the out.”

Stephens finished the game with six catches for 106 yards.

“It was a good call by our coaches,” Morales said of the play. “(The Bulldogs) kept jumping the out rout. Our line was blocking pretty good.
They bit on the fake. I just threw it up to where I know D.J. could get it. I knew he was a fast, good receiver and I knew he’d be there. I just tried to stay composed and tie it up. Make something happen.”

Morales was 10-of-16 for 140 yards with the one touchdown and an interception.

With only 34 seconds left in regulation, Cougars linebacker Evan Harrington sacked Bulldogs quarterback Gunner Jespersen and forced a fumble.

Harrington led the team with 10 total tackles and two sacks.

COC linebacker Khalil Bass picked it up and gave the Cougars a chance to win the ball game.

“We swarm as a defense,” Bass said. “Everyone’s got to get to the ball when things like that happen. Just kind of what we do — all 11 hats to the ball.”

However, the Bulldogs’ defense held steady, forcing overtime.

“Our defense is why we are 5-0 right now,” Dutra said.

Hancock’s defense recorded three sacks and forced three turnovers in the first quarter alone.

It even scored the team’s first touchdown.

With 4:06 remaining in the first quarter, Bulldogs defensive back Joshua Morris intercepted Morales and returned it 58 yards for the score and an early 7-0 lead.

Hancock got on the board again with 5:34 in the second quarter when freshman tailback Ryan Anglin received a toss from Jespersen, ran around the outside and in from the 1-yard line. A fumbled snap on the extra point held the lead at 13-0.

Less than two minutes later, the Cougars appeared poised to score after Morales riffled the ball into wide receiver Mario Wright at the 5-yard line.

However, on four-and-goal from inside the 1, the Bulldogs defense overloaded the line and held Cougars running back B.J. Iverson at bay, turning the ball over on downs.

The Cougars got the ball back with 21 seconds remaining the in quarter and Rodriguez kicked a 40-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 13-3 going into halftime.

Coming out of the break, Iverson returned second-half kickoff 67 yards to the Bulldogs 25-yard line, which led to a Rodriguez 28-yard field goal.

After holding the Bulldogs on the ensuing possession, Cougars quarterback Eric Brown, who subbed in for Morales periodically throughout the night, manufactured a drive to the Hancock 4-yard line.

But on Bulldogs safety Larry Greene intercepted Brown in the end zone.

Brown finished the game 6-of-14 for 67 yards and one interception. He also carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards.

Meanwhile, Bulldogs quarterback Jespersen was 11-of-25 for 132 yards.

For the Cougars, running back Nick Hale, a Valencia graduate, carried the ball 16 times for 55 yards to lead the team.

COC had a chance to score on fourth-and-goal from the 2 early in the fourth quarter, but Brown was stopped at the 1-yard line.

“We just couldn’t make the plays when we needed to do them,” Tujague said. “Now why is that? That’s what I’m going to go find out.”



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