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COC makes costly mistakes

Cougars lose five fumbles and fall behind early

Posted: October 24, 2009 11:40 p.m.
Updated: October 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
VENTURA – The College of the Canyons football team was looking for a spark.

Instead, the Cougars were nearly shut out for the first time since the program’s reinstatement in 1998.

COC put its first points on the board with 2:35 left in the game, but five lost fumbles as the Cougars fell 23-6 to Ventura College on Saturday at the Ventura College Sportsplex Stadium.

“I don’t know if there is so much frustration as there is, we tried to put something new in (on offense) to spark us,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague. “And it was there. There were signs and glimpses of greatness. … Unfortunately, we put our defense in that position too many times.”

COC (5-3, 2-2) went with a run-based offense with mobile quarterback Eric Brown at the helm.

However, Brown was unable to lead any consistent drives and lost three fumbles in the first half.

Brown was ultimately ejected early in the fourth quarter following a personal foul.

Filling in, Justin Morales found tight end Mychal Rivera from 6 yards out for the Cougars’ first point of the game.

The touchdown was set up by a 55-yard high-arcing pass form Morales to wide receiver D.J. Stephens.

But the extra point was blocked in an ironic microcosm of a game in which nothing seemed to be going COC’s way.

“We tried to just keep going even though clearly, we were down,” Morales said. “We tried to just dig deep and get something. We didn’t want to leave here with zero points. We just kept believing, and we just executed on that play.”

Morales finished 2-of-4 with 61 yards, while Brown was 8-of-11 for 58 yards and rushed 13 times for 11 yards.

Ventura (6-2, 3-0) built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a touchdown from running back Dominic Morris from 2 yards out and 6-yard rush from quarterback Antavius Sims.

Sims repeatedly took advantage of the short field his offense was given and torched the Cougars with his passing and running skills.

Sims sat out the second half with a lower-body injury but still managed to finish 10-of-11 for 107 yards passing and rushed eight times for 54 yards.

Ventura added a 36-yard field goal by Tyler Stampler early in the second quarter, as the Pirates took a 17-0 advantage into intermission.

“It all comes from our offensive line,” Morris said of his team’s first-half rushing success. “Our offensive line just had to come together, and when we work together we can be a very dominant team run-gamewise.”

COC’s defense slowed Venutra in the second half, limiting the Pirates’ chances and stopping Ventura three times on fourth down, including a fake field goal attempt. The Cougars didn’t allow a score in the second half.

“We got put in some tough situations, and we knew the quarterback was their guy and that’s who we needed to stop,” said defensive back/linebacker Kenny Shanahan. “But they made plays, and we didn’t.”

The Pirates registered the remainder of their points via Stampler field goals of 19 and 35 yards in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

Running back Nick Hale led the Cougars with six carries for 39 yards and wide receiver C.J. Atkins caught three passes for 39 yards and rushed the ball twice for 25 yards.

Morris carried the ball 15 times for the Pirates for 42 yards, running back Gabriel Bostic had 14 carries for 36 yards. Pirates wide receiver Brandon Gunter caught three passes for 32 yards.

For the Cougars, composure was their downfall as personal fouls brought back long plays and killed momentum all night.

For his ejection, Brown must sit out the Cougars’ game against Pasadena on Nov. 7, which follows a bye week.

“I’m frustrated with that and the penalties at the end, because that is not what we do and it’s not who are at all,” Tujague said. “They always catch the guy who retaliated. Always. You’ve got to be the bigger man.”

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