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College football: Cougars out to snap slide

Canyons heads to Ventura hoping to halt four-game losing streak, its longest since 1976

Posted: November 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons running back Jamie Wilson (10) and the rest of the Cougars will try to halt their four-game losing tonight against Ventura College. The Cougars haven’t lost four straight games in a row since 1976.

 

The College of the Canyons football squad will try to end its four-game losing streak when it travels to Ventura College tonight at 6 p.m.

The Cougars (3-5, 0-3) are coming off an overtime 48-42 loss to Cerritos College on Oct. 29 in what was the closest they’ve come to victory since a 42-17 win over East L.A. College on Sept. 24.

Canyons’ own mistakes cost it the game against the Falcons, as the Cougars missed a chip-shot field goal, lost a fumble in the red zone and surrendered a game-tying drive to Cerritos near the end of regulation.

“We had the game won and just made some small mistakes, and you can’t do that against a good football team,” said Canyons head coach Garett Tujague.

This is the first time COC has lost four straight games since the program was resurrected in 1998.

The Cougars haven’t lost four straight since 1976.

That team lost five straight en route to a 2-7 record.

But the Pirates (5-3, 2-1) know just how close the Cougars have come to victory in recent weeks. Something Ventura head coach Steve Mooshagian is emphasizing to keep his players from overlooking COC.

“Canyons could easily be 2-1 (in conference) with a few breaks here and there,” Mooshagian said. “They’ve got talent in all aspects of the game. It’s going to be a four-quarter barn-burner war.”

This week, COC will have its starting quarterback, Chris Rini, back under center. Rini was injured early in the third quarter against Cerritos and sat out the rest of the game with an undisclosed injury.

Despite the loss, the Cougars were able to find plenty from the contest to build on.

“I’ll say I was very proud of my team for fighting and never giving up. And that’s a testament and that’s impressive,” Tujague said. “You get to the point where you have to finish games and put them away. We have not done that the last two weeks and that’s a bit frustrating.”

For the Pirates, the offense runs through quarterback Matt Koman and wide receiver Tim Vizzi, who leads Ventura in receiving yards with 341 yards on 34 catches with three touchdowns.

Koman presents a similar challenge to the Cougars as Rini presents to the Pirates, as both have shown an ability to get outside of the pocket.

Ventura is coming off a 29-28 victory over Allan Hancock College on Oct. 29 — but the Pirates made plenty of mistakes of their own after taking an early 21-0 lead. As a result, winning the turnover battle will likely play an important role in tonight’s contest.

“It’s going to come down to ball control, and I think it’s going to be the basic premise of all football games,” Tujague said. “Take care of the football, block and tackle. When we do those things, I think we’ll have a great game.”

That sentiment was echoed by Mooshagian.

“It may come down to a handful of plays,” he said. “Ball security and solid plays in the kicking game are solid factors.”

Canyons’ running back Matt Bowen tallied four rushing touchdowns last week, and should be a focus again tonight. But fellow running back Jamie Wilson added 84 yards on four carries and is expected to receive carries tonight.

“The guy who has the hot hand is going to go,” Tujague said. “Both have played well and we have other running backs that are going to make an appearance. You have to go with who has the hot hand.”

And that should make things a little more difficult for the Pirates’ defense.

“You’ve got to prepare for their whole offense,” Mooshagian said. “You’ve got to prepare for their whole scheme because they’ve been productive with all three quarterbacks. They’ve been productive with all their running backs. It would be a mistake to prepare for players. You have to prepare for their scheme because they’ve all been successful.”

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