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Marauders massacred

COC uses high-octane offense to stop Antelope Valley on road

Posted: September 6, 2008 10:39 p.m.
Updated: November 8, 2008 5:00 a.m.

COC's Steve Gourley, left, draws a bead on Antelope Valley quarterback Rodney Dorsette late in the first quarter of the 2008 Foothill Conference opener in Antelope Valley. Gourely's hit caused a fumble which the Cougars recovered. Canyons won, 54-14.

QUARTZ HILL - The preseason No. 1 football team in the nation now owns the distinction being of the top team in the Antelope Valley.

College of the Canyons, ranked as best in the country by "Street & Smith's Football Yearbook," dismantled Antelope Valley College in the season opener on a warm and breezy Saturday night at Quartz Hill High School.

COC combined a stellar defensive effort with three touchdowns by wide receiver Hayo Carpenter to rumble past the Marauders, 54-14.

Despite the Cougars' lopsided victory, there won't be a shortage of things to work on in practice next week, what with all of the dropped passes, penalties, turnovers and special teams blunders.

"The scoreboard is nice, but it's really not a reflection of how the game went," said COC head coach Garett Tujague. "There were a lot of mistakes, and we have a long list of things we're going to do to fix that."

The game didn't exactly unfold the way that COC's special teams gurus had mapped it out on the bus ride from Valencia. Marauder return specialist Eddie Russ Jr. had trouble finding the handle on the opening kickoff, then bolted 95 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown.

"There was a positive to it," Tujague said. "It was, ‘Guys, they can play, they're not just going to roll over,' and I think it helped us to realize that it was game time."

The Cougars answered with a trio of first-quarter trips to the end zone. The initial one came on a 47-yard punt return by Carpenter. After COC defensive back Josh Gibbs recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Fred Winborn powered in from the right side for a 5-yard touchdown.

A 3-yard keeper by Cougar backup quarterback Joey Frias capped the first-half scoring, and COC took a 21-7 lead into the break.

The Cougars showcased a dominant two-quarterback attack as sophomores Brad McClellan and Frias sliced through AVC's defense with accuracy and efficiency all night long.

"Earlier (Saturday), Joey and I read the paper, and he kind of came off as the runner and I was the passer," McClellan said. "They don't know we can both do the opposite, and I guess we both came out and tried to prove a point."

McClellan put the Cougars on the scoreboard in the second half when he snuck it in from a yard out with 10:36 to play in the third quarter. A bad snap on the extra-point attempt resulted in Ricky Drake's kick sailing wide right.

Moments later, Gibbs picked off a pass from AVC sophomore quarterback Rodney Dorsette and powered it home from 45 yards.

"I'm just playing my part, making plays, big plays," Gibbs said. "That's how you get a starting job."

Another inferior snap caused Drake's attempt to sail off the mark, and the Cougars led 33-7.

Later in the quarter, Frias threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Carpenter in the corner of the end zone.

Not to be outdone, McClellan spotted Carpenter streaking down the middle of the field and connected for a 54-yard touchdown - Carpenter's third score of the game. It gave the Cougars a 47-7 advantage with 39 seconds left in the third.

Dorsette, who was hounded all night long by COC's stifling defense, teamed with freshman wide receiver Jamie Jones for a 77-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

COC running back Brandon McDonald's 47-yard TD reception closed it out.

The Marauders were coming off of a 9-2 season in which they won the Foothill Conference for the first time in 20 years. AVC head coach Perry Jehlicka said he didn't know what to expect Saturday against highly touted COC.

"They're a good football team, we knew that going in," Jehlicka said. "What makes them tough is their darn running game is so good that it makes defending their pass that much tougher."

The Cougars will play their home opener Saturday against Santa Barbara City College.


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