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COC football: Cougars knot up standings

COC moves into three-way tie for first in conference with win over Ventura

Posted: November 6, 2010 10:55 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2010 10:55 p.m.

College of the Canyons safety Antwan Smith, right, causes Ventura’s Antavius Sims (1) to fumble as safety Justin Cudworth, left, and lineman Dashawn Cassell converge at COC on Saturday.

The College of the Canyons defense knew it would have to contain the elusive Ventura College quarterback to have a chance to win the game.

With 1:37 left and needing one more stop, the Cougars did one better.

COC linebacker Justin Stevens picked off a screen pass attempt thrown by Pirates quarterback Antavius Sims at the 35-yard line and returned it all the way for a game-clinching touchdown.

It put the Cougars up 37-24, and that would eventually be the final score in a key National Division, Northern Conference game against No. 15 Ventura Saturday night at Cougar Stadium

“We were coming after him all night,” Stevens said. “It was a little easier to get through that play and I just saw the play and was able to grab it because of that side arm throw.”

The same side arm style led to three Sims interceptions in the game along with several tipped balls throughout.

He completed 15-of-48 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown.

“Football is the ultimate team game and No. 1 (Sims) is a very, very good athlete, but he’s only one guy,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague.

From the beginning, the Cougars (6-3, 3-1) dared Sims, who is known for his running ability, to throw the ball by using a contain defense up front.

“(Defensive coordinator Corbet said, ‘If you can beat us throwing, you can beat us throwing’ and we just did an excellent job executing the game plan and staying in our lanes,” COC safety Justin Cudworth said.

Coming into the game, Sims was averaging 105.2 rushing yards per game, but the Cougars held him to just 64 yards on 23 carries in the game.

The plan worked like a charm at first, as the Cougars cruised to a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter thanks in large part to a wacky, yet successful play for the COC offense on the second play from scrimmage.

Quarterback Justin Arias handed the ball off to tailback Ryan Zirbel, who then flipped it back to wide receiver Chris Rivas on the reverse. Rivas fumbled the ball as he tried to pitch it back to Arias, but Arias alertly scooped up the ball and heaved it 48-yards to a wide open Rickeem Jackson for the score.

The Cougars took the early 7-0 advantage.

Eventually Ventura (5-4, 2-2) did start finding holes the COC zone coverage and began to move the ball and answered back with a 3-yard touchdown run by Dezerek Reed.

COC scored 10 unanswered points before the Ventura offense began to move the ball consistently.

After Sims threw his lone touchdown of the day in the second quarter and then scampered for an 8-yard touchdown run with 16 second left in the half, Ventura took its first lead at 21-17.

Again, two fumbles set up the Cougar offense deep in Pirates territory twice in the second half and set up another Arias’ third touchdown pass of the night and Zirbel’s first from 4-yards out.

At that point, the Cougars led 30-24 with 5:55 to play.

Arias finished 14-for-19 with 178 yards, two interceptions and the three scores and Zirbel was the game’s leading rusher with 86 yards on 13 carries.

The Cougars moved into a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Bakersfield and Cerritos with the victory and will play at Bakersfield in the regular season finale next week.


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