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College of the Canyons football: Testing the waters

COC plays three different quarterbacks during non-conference rout of East L.A.

Posted: September 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons defensive lineman Zach Eaton tackles East Los Angeles College quarterback Mike Oliver for a 5-yard loss during the first quarter on Saturday at Cougar Stadium. COC won the game 42-17.

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Winner stays, loser goes.

It’s a popular rule on playgrounds all across the country, but on Saturday night at Cougar stadium, those were the stakes for College of the Canyons quarterbacks Chris Rini, Chris Owens and Tyler D’Amore during their 42-17 victory over East Los Angeles College.

The team scores a touchdown and you stay in. The team doesn’t, and you rotate.

That might mean a lot of pressure, but for the Cougars (3-1), it was a way of getting all three experience in a non-conference game.

And it worked.

All three quarterbacks led scoring drives for the Cougars who effectively put the game away when D’Amore led a 3:43, 75-yard drive on 12 plays to put COC up 21-10 with just 34 seconds remaining in the half.

“Everything just fell into place tonight,” D’Amore said.

The Huskies’ offense did its best to stay in the game, as Aaron Cantu replaced starting quarterback Mike Oliver early in the first quarter.

Cantu would finish the game 14-of-22 with 184 yards and one touchdown.

“You’ve got to take it to the Cougars, they played a good game,” said East L.A. head coach Lynn Cain.

Coming out of the locker room to start the third, it was a chance for Rini — the usual starter — to
go under center.

And he knew he couldn’t repeat the mistake he made on the team’s opening possession.

After forcing a punt on the opening possession of the game, the Cougars, led by Rini, drove to the East LA 13-yard line before Rini fumbled and the Huskies jumped on the ball.

After the fumble, Rini didn’t return to the field until the first possession of the third — and he was determined not to hand over quarterbacking duties again.

“He told me he wasn’t going to come off the field (in the second half),” said COC head coach Garett Tujague. “I told him, ‘you better score, and field goals don’t count.”

To start the third quarter Rini led Canyons on a six-play, 47-yard drive culminating in Rini’s 7-yard scamper into the end zone to give the Cougars a 28-10 lead with 13:03 left in the third.

The Cougars came back on their next possession as Rini hit wide receiver Chris Rivas with a 15-yard pass to end a 10-play, 82-yard drive.

Rini finished 12-of-17 with 144 yards and one touchdown and two fumbles.

The next drive, though, didn’t work out as well for Rini, as he lost his second fumble of the game after running 20 yards down to the East LA 32-yard line.

Later in the quarter, D’Amore got another shot and ended a 45-yard, seven-play drive with a five-yard run to give the Cougars the final margin.

He went 13-of-18 with 103 yards and a touchdown.

Owens ended up 6-of-8 with 58 yards.

While each quarterback played well during the game, there was no doubt the “win or go home” mentality of the rotation added pressure to each player when he took the field.

“That’s what it’s all about, “Tujague said. “No matter what we do in life, there is always going to be adversity.”

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