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Cougars come on late

COC overcomes slow start at Moorpark with 21 fourth-quarter points

Posted: October 10, 2009 11:59 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.

MOORPARK —  Following last week’s loss to Allan Hancock College, College of the Canyons head football coach Garett Tujague said the Cougars were still searching for the missing element that would make them a complete team.

Thanks to three interceptions from COC defensive back Kalen Powell and 21 fourth-quarter points, the Cougars beat Moorpark College 31-17 on Saturday at Griffin Stadium, and in the process, turned a corner.

“The thing that I enjoyed was that the defensive players were encouraging the offensive players and the offensive players were telling the defense, ‘One more stop,’” Tujague said.

“I think we turned that corner. And that’s the camaraderie part of the game — and why we still do it and why we hang round — is that part of it. I think we grasped that today.”

Tied at 10-10 going into the fourth quarter, the Cougars (4-2) appeared to find their rhythm offensively as quarterback Justin Morales threw touchdown passes of 5 and 37 yards to wide receivers C.J. Atkins and Robert McIntyre respectively, to take a 24-10 lead.

“I think it is not how you start but how you finish, and that’s with anything in life,” Morales said. “And that is something we emphasized at halftime. Our coach kind of fired us up a little bit, jump-started us and the whole team got us going again.”

Morales finished the game 22-of-31 for 261 and three touchdowns.

His counterpart, Moorpark quarterback Ian Shultis tried to regroup the Raiders (0-5) and threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Gant to cut the lead to 24-17.

However, COC running back Nick Hale punched the ball in from 4 yards out with 59 seconds remaining to put COC up 31-17.

“We’ve been getting better each week, we just can’t seem to get good enough to be the next team,” said Moorpark head coach Jim Bittner.

Shultis finished 20-of-46 with 163 yards, three interceptions and one touchdown.

Two of his three of his picks - all courtesy of Powell - turned into points for the Cougars.

“Schematically we were 10-for-10 on just about everything, perfect,” Powell said.

The game was another strong performance by the COC defense, which kept pressure on Shultis all night.

After field goals by Moorpark’s Zachary Shultis from 22 yards and COC’s James Rodriguez from 29 yards to open up the scoring, the Raiders took a 10-3 lead when Ian Shultis charged through the line and scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper.

The Cougars tied the score after Powell intercepted Ian Shultis, eventually setting up a 22-yard touchdown from Morales to wide receiver D.J. Stephens.

On third-and-10, Morales found Stephens short. The wide receiver, who came into the game with 406 receiving yards and four touchdowns, broke a couple tackles, spun and dove into the end zone.

Stephens finished with nine catches for 121 yards.

After Powell’s second interception gave the Cougars the ball at the Moorpark 16, COC looked poised to take its first lead of the game.

However, Rodriguez’s 21-yard field goal attempt was blocked, and the two teams went into halftime with the score knotted at 10.

Hale finished with 14 carries for 41 yards and one touchdown, while Jarell Holland carried the ball 14 times for 48 yards for the Raiders, playing both running back and linebacker.

Defensive back Kenny Shanahan led the Cougars with five tackles and one pass break-up.

“I think every coach would agree there comes a point where these men have to take it upon themselves to will themselves to greatness,” Tujague said. “As coaches, we have to match that. And I think we got there tonight.”



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