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COC football: Cougars end on sour note

COC rallies after slow start but can’t catch Fullerton

Posted: November 20, 2010 10:30 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2010 10:30 p.m.
 

BAKERSFIELD — From a spectator’s standpoint, it was all the excitement one could hope for in a football game.

From College of the Canyons’ standpoint, it was a disappointing finish to an up-and-down 2010 campaign.

In a game that featured 990 yards of total offense and another 303 in penalty yards, COC fell 64-49 to Fullerton College in Saturday’s Golden Empire Bowl at Memorial Stadium.

It was highest number of points allowed by a Cougar football team in a single game since 1971, when the Cougars lost 74-20 to Reedley College in the first round of the California State playoffs.

“We used to have games like this all the time, but usually we won them,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague.
COC (6-5) trailed 24-7 at halftime after its offense was held scoreless through the first two quarters.

The Cougars’ only score in the half came on a 67-yard interception returned by Josh Irvin early in the second quarter.
Then the shootout began.

When Fullerton (7-4) scored on its opening drive of the second half to go up 30-7, it looked like a lopsided defeat was looming for COC.

But the offense came alive for the Cougars, scoring 15 points in a span of 1:19 to cut the lead to 30-22.

Quarterback Justin Arias began finding open receivers down the field and regaining his confidence, which was shaken by a two-fumble, two-interception first half.

Arias ran in two touchdowns himself, and threw four total touchdowns, three of which went to tailback Ryan Zirbel, and one to wide receiver Michael Prieto.

Arias finished 35-of-60 for 441 yards and also threw three interceptions.

“I’m excited the offense played well in the second half, but I don’t know what happened on defense,” Tujague said. “We couldn’t stop anything.”

The Cougars’ hopes of mounting a comeback were quickly dashed by Hornets running back Kelvin York, who gave the Cougar defense fits throughout the night en rout to game MVP honors.

He was the game’s leading rusher, gaining 153 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.

Fullerton quarterback Darius Banks tossed five touchdowns, 264 yards and on interception on 14-of-20 passing.

For the second straight year, COC missed the playoffs and capped off the season with a loss in a bowl game.

COC defensive tackle Dashawn Cassell, who was named the Golden Empire Bowl’s Defensive Player of the Game felt like his team was capable of a lot more. Hornets receiver Willie Downs named the Offensive Player of the Game.

“I felt like we should have won every game given our talent and the hard work we put in, but it was little mental things we did that cost us along the way,” Cassell said.

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