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Another day, another win

The Cougars remain undefeated, improving to 4-0 in league

Posted: October 25, 2008 10:07 p.m.
Updated: December 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Jovan Leacock rushes against Ventura. The Cougars scored five touchdowns in the first half.

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The turning point came early for the Ventura College football team, which squared off against College of the Canyons on Saturday night.

That moment occurred when Ventura's team bus made a left turn onto Valencia Blvd. from the southbound Interstate 5. Shortly thereafter, Ventura hit a speed bump -- a pack-of-wild-dogs COC defensive effort that all but choked the life out of the Pirates.

Canyons, propelled by five first-half touchdowns, cruised to an easy 52-29 National Division, Northern Conference victory at Cougar Stadium.

With the win, the Cougars, the No. 2 ranked team in Southern California, ran their unbeaten streak to eight games and are now 4-0 in conference play.

The Cougar defense held Ventura (3-4, 0-3) to just two offensive touchdowns, both coming late in the game against COC's second team.

"We knew Ventura had weapons," said COC head coach Garett Tujague. "That's probably the most balanced team we've faced, and our defense locked down the whole night."

COC defensive lineman Marquis Jackson said the process started in practice earlier in the week.

"It's just hard work, going out there and doing what the coaches tell us to do," Jackson said. "Then when the game comes, we dominate like we know we can."

On the other side of the ball, COC's lofty point total was in sharp contrast to the average of 13.8 points per game Ventura had yielded coming in. The Pirates had owned the second-best scoring defense in Southern California.

Ventura's initial score came courtesy of a breakdown by COC special teams. Ventura's Patrick Hebert blocked Ricky Drake's punt, and Pirate defensive back James Jackson scooped up the football and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown to stake Ventura to a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the ballgame.

"Special teams gave them a little more momentum then they needed," Tujague said.

But the Cougars got it back and then some, scoring five times before halftime.

COC quarterback Brad McClellan said his team was a little nervous in the early going.

"It's not like it was the first time we've been there," McClellan said. "I just wanted to settle them down and let them know we've got a whole game ahead of us. I settled us down, and we got things going."

McClellan found wide receiver Jovan Leacock for a long gainer to the Ventura 1-yard line, and sophomore running back Fred Winborn scampered in on the next play.

Then in the second quarter, McClellan engineered three lengthy drives, all resulting in short trips to the end zone -- a 3-yard reception by Hayo Carpenter and touchdown runs by Winborn of 1 and 2 yards.

"You try like heck to do the best you can," said Ventura second-year head coach Jon Mack.

COC's final touchdown of the first half came via Jake Tepper's fumble recovery at the Ventura 19. On the next play, McClellan capitalized by finding Carpenter in the end zone with 14 seconds left in the half to give the Cougars a 35-7 lead at the break.

McClellan's first-half numbers were impressive -- 16-of-20 passing for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He finished 19-of-23 for 217 yards.

The second half opened with the seldom seen -- back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns.

First up was COC's Taveon Burke, who faked a reverse before outrunning everyone on the field for a 91-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, Ventura's Nick Karam picked up key blocks at midfield and then walked a tightrope down the right sideline for a 97-yard score.

McClellan went back to work, driving the Cougars downfield in a series that culminated in fullback Sean Quinn's 19-yard scoring bolt up the middle. Drake's 38-yard field goal with 2:08 left in the third quarter concluded COC's scoring and gave the Cougars their biggest advantage at 52-13.

With COC's second team seeing ample action in the fourth, Ventura scored its only offensive touchdowns of the night.

Ventura quarterback Lee Mondol, who entered the game as the top passer in the conference (231.8 yards per game), was under heavy pressure much of the game. He connected on just 5 of 14 first-half passes for 26 yards.

In last week's victory over Glendale, Carpenter established a school record for career receiving yards, besting the mark set by Tyrell Smith in 2002 and 2004. On Saturday, he added another 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 10 catches.

The Cougars have a bye next week, so the conference title drive will continue when the Cougars host Pasadena City College Nov. 8. Ventura will entertain Bakersfield College Saturday.


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