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Prep football: Another Canyon return

Cowboys win their first playoff game since 2006

Posted: November 19, 2010 11:30 p.m.
Updated: November 19, 2010 11:30 p.m.

Canyon’s Darius Rudolph (5) runs the ball as Palmdale’s Louis Gipson tries to chase him down on Friday at Canyon High during the Cowboys’ 24-13 win.


It’s been a long time since fans of Canyon have celebrated a playoff victory.
That wait, nearly four years, is finally over.

The Cowboys defeated Palmdale High 24-13 Friday night at Canyon High in their CIF-Southern Section Northern Division first-round matchup.

The win marks the first playoff victory for Canyon since it defeated Concord De La Salle 27-13 to capture the CIF State Championship on December 16, 2006.

“Last year, our first playoff game was against Moorpark and we weren’t expecting to win at all. We came in lazy and just let them beat us,” said Canyon wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky, who caught six passes for 71 yards. “Pretty much this year we came out with an attitude and punched them in the mouths.”

Canyon got out of the gates slowly for the second week in a row, nearly losing the ball on the opening kickoff after Palmdale was called for kick-catch interference while recovering a high onside-kick attempt.

On their first possession, the Cowboys drove down the field behind passes to three different running backs before stalling at the Palmdale 19-yard line.

Kicker Mohammad Roknipour converted a 36-yard field goal to give Canyon the early 3-0 lead just 1 minute and 30 seconds into the first quarter.

On its next possession, Canyon made the first of many special teams errors on the night, as Roknipour punted the ball just five yards to give the Falcons the ball at the Canyon 39-yard line.

On the drive, Palmdale found its way to the Canyon 1-yard line where it faced fourth down with 1:50 seconds left to go in the quarter. Quarterback David Richards took the ball from under center and surged forward where he was met by the Canyon defense for a loss of one and a turnover on downs.

“That hurt us quite a bit,” said Palmdale head coach Jeff Williams. “It really took the wind out of our sails, I don’t think we ever recovered from that.”

The Falcons defense held strong, though and forced Canyon into another short punt of just 12 yards. However, on Palmdale’s next possession, Richards, the highly touted University of Arizona commit, lost his second of three fumbles on the night.

“We had some costly turnovers at the worst times,” Williams said. “Against a good team like that you have to capitalize on those opportunities.”

Canyon turned the turnover into an eight-play scoring drive.

Running back Darius Rudolph, who finished with 132 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, took the ball up the middle 3 yards for a score and a 10-0 lead.

Rudolph added his second touchdown of the night on a 15-yard run with 9:52 remaining in the quarter to go up 17-0.
Quarterback Jonathan Jerozal, who finished with 166 yards through the air on 14-of-27 attempts, added a 1-yard sneak into the end zone to give the Cowboys a 24-0 lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.

But the Canyon defense bent as the Falcons went 65-yards in just six plays to pull within 24-7 with 5:13 remaining.

On the ensuing kick off, wide receiver Louis Gipson, who had 145 yards on eight receptions, recovered a favorable bounce on a pooch kick down the sideline to give the Falcons the ball at the Canyon 21-yard line. Three plays later, aided by a Canyon pass interference penalty, Palmdale running back Timothy Fowler went 12 yards for a touchdown to cut Canyon’s lead to 24-13.

Palmdale had one more drive in the fourth, but it stalled at the Canyon 8-yard line with under a minute to play.

“We let up,” said Canyon head coach Chris Varner. “I don’t know if the feeling was the game was in the bag, but that’s kind of how we played for a bit. Then they battled back and gave us a game.”

The Cowboys will face No. 2 seed St. Bonaventure next Friday. The Seraphs advanced to the second round by defeating Redondo Union 44-14 on Friday.


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