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COC football: A mistake too many

Penalties, turnovers prove costly as COC loses first conference game of season

Posted: October 30, 2010 11:17 p.m.
Updated: October 30, 2010 11:17 p.m.

College of the Canyons quarterback Justin Arias (18) falls into the end zone during the second quarter against Cerritos College on Saturday at Cougar Stadium. Cerritos beat the Cougars by the score of 31-24.

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There were just too many errors for College of the Canyons to overcome Saturday night at Cougar Stadium.

Penalties and a pair of costly turnovers plagued the Cougars, who lost their first National Division, Northern Conference game of the season 31-24 to Cerritos College.

The Cougars had a chance to tie the score late in the fourth quarter, but wide receiver Alex Fagerstrom fumbled the ball while fighting for extra yardage at the Falcons’ 16-yard line.

Cerritos fell on the ball and iced the game with 1:18 remaining.

“We just didn’t come out with the same intensity in the second half,” COC quarterback Justin Arias said. “We got a little bit of it back in the fourth quarter, but it was just a little bit too late.”

The Cougars (5-3, 2-1) led 16-5 at halftime behind the Arias’ efficient play under center. He scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown at the 4:39 mark in the second quarter and followed with a 14-yard scoring pass to Rickeem Jackson four minutes later.

Arias went 23-of-36 for 200 yards and two touchdowns and an interception in the game. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 64 yards on 13 carries.

At the end of the second half, a few COC players got into a small scuffle with Cerritos players as they exited the field.
The Cougars were flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which was assessed on the third quarter kickoff.
The flags started flying from there.

The Falcons (6-2, 2-1) opened the second half with a drive that was kept alive by two more personal foul penalties and a pass interference called on COC before Cerritos finished the drive with a 1-yard Daveon Barner run. The score was 16-11 after the Falcons failed to convert the two-point conversion.

A few three-and-outs and an Arias interception later, Cerritos was on top 17-16 thanks to a 3-yard touchdown by Jaron Hytche. The Falcons again failed on a two-point attempt.

Hytche had a game-high 70 yards on 16 carries.

“In the third quarter, we had four or five offensive plays and we didn’t take care of the ball,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague. “We didn’t help ourselves with three-and-out after three-and-out on offense.”

The Falcons added one last touchdown — a 25-yard pass from quarterback Kane Wilson to wideout Lindsey Anderson — to finish off a forgettable third quarter for the Cougars.

Trailing 24-16, COC regrouped and started finding ways to overcome Cerritos’ constant defensive pressure.

“They were bringing six guys every time,” Tujague said. “We’ve only got six blockers.”

The answer to the pressure came early in the fourth quarter when Arias connected with tailback Ryan Zirbel on a route out of the backfield for a 22-yard touchdown.

A successful two-point conversion tied the score at 24, but Cerritos scored the eventual game-winner later in the quarter on a 1-yard Barner run.

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