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Cougars take what’s given

By Perry Smith

Posted: October 17, 2009 11:38 p.m.
Updated: October 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Cougars wide receiver D.J. Stephens (11) gets a block from teammate Mychal Rivera (81) in the Cougars' 14-6 win over Glendale on Saturday at COC.

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College of the Canyons running back Anthony Johnson waited all year for his opportunity, and when he finally got it, he wanted to make the most of it.

Johnson was able to take advantage, scoring the Cougars’ only offensive touchdown in a 14-6 win over Glendale College on Saturday at Cougar Stadium.

“All I was thinking was that if my offensive tackle (Louiszell Alexander) picks up his block, I’m taking it to the end zone, and he did,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who came into the game who five carries on the season, had three in the first half for 54 yards. His third carry was a 41-yard sprint to paydirt that was the only score either team could manage through two quarters.

Johnson finished with 70 yards on 10 carries on the evening.

Nick Hale, who was the team’s leading rusher coming into the game, missed practice with the flu, and the illness gave several players an opportunity to step up, said COC head coach Garett Tujague.

“‘Coach said, ‘Hey, here’s your chance, show me what you got,’” Johnson said. “My offensive line did a great job.”

But it was COC’s defense that set the tone for most of the game, as COC linebacker Evan Harrington ending three drives with tackles for losses, including two sacks and several quarterback hurries.

Glendale (3-3, 0-2) looked to establish its passing game early against the Cougars (5-2, 2-1), with quarterback Steve Miller connecting on a 41-yard bomb with Michael Harrison on the team’s first snap.

But Miller was held to 2-of-10 passes for 29 yards in the first half after his first completion.

Glendale’s offense, which was ranked second in the Southern California Football Association in red-zone scoring percentage coming into the game, wasn’t allowed inside the 20-yard line by the Cougars’ defense in the first half.

Vaquero running back Jorge Chaidez was averaging almost 90 yards per game going into the matchup, but was held to seven rushing yards Saturday.

“We came in thinking we had to do multiple things, but the pressure got to our quarterback and he misfired on some passes,” said Glendale head coach John Rome. “They were playing great defense.”

“Injuries to our offensive line had a major impact,” Rome added, “And that’s been an issue that we’ve had.”

Whether it was adjustments or great coverage, Miller struggled all night. Sacked five times, Glendale’s signal-caller was held to just 6-of-20 passing for 108 yards.

Harrington and fellow linebacker Khalil Bass were in the Vaqueros’ backfield for much of the game.

“It’s all a credit to my defensive line,” Harrington said after the game. “I think we have one of the best defensive lines in the country. They’re young, but they do what they have to do to get it done.”

The Vaqueros managed to sustain a drive from their own 20-yard line to start the third quarter, as Glendale running back Joe Wiggan notched a few big runs to drive his team to the Cougars’ 6-yard line. Miller finished the drive with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Brian Williams to make it 7-6.

However, Glendale missed the extra point.

The Cougars’ offense struggled in the second half, and COC quarterbacks Eric Brown and Justin Morales combined for just 6-of-18 passing for 100 yards.

But for the first time all year, the Cougars had no turnovers, which ended up being a decisive factor in the game.

Johnson’s brother, COC defensive back Arron Fisher, had several pass break-ups to end drives in the first half.

When Miller went to the other side of the field, COC defensive back Antwan Smith was waiting for him.

As the Vaqueros began their first drive of the fourth quarter, Smith snagged a pick-six near the Cougars’ 30-yard line that gave his team its final points.

Tujague said he stressed taking care of the ball all week in practice, and it paid off.

“One of the things that I was very impressed with tonight was that offensively, we had zero turnovers,” Tujague said. “The turnovers are what hurt Glendale. It’s the key to the game — blocking, tackling and taking care of the football.”



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