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College football: Tough night on the road

COC struggles in loss to Bakersfield

Posted: September 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.

BAKERSFIELD — The hunt is on for anything encouraging to surface in the wake of the College of the Canyons football team’s disastrous road trip to archrival Bakersfield College.

Bakersfield capitalized on an avalanche of costly first-half Cougar mishaps and hammered COC 45-7 in a National Division, Northern Conference train wreck Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

It was the Cougars’ widest margin of defeat since football was reinstated at the school in 1998.

If it could go wrong, it did go wrong in the first half as the Cougars buckled under the weight of dropped passes, fumbles, an interception, a blocked field goal, missed tackles, untimely penalties and numerous failures in the red zone.

COC head coach Garett Tujague took responsibility for what he characterized as his team’s epic failures.

“It’s me, 100 percent me,” said Tujague, now in his sixth year at the helm. “There’s something that I’m not doing right, and I have to go home and take a good, long look in the mirror and figure it out.”

The lone bright spot on the night was the Cougars’ only touchdown, a 5-yard sweep into the end zone by Matt Szymanski with 4:13 left to play. It followed a long kickoff return by Kwasi Washington.

But the game was lost in the first half, when Cougars simply couldn’t get out of their own way.

COC quarterback Ryan Kasdorf (14-of-26 for 178 yards and one interception) chalked it up to numerous missed opportunities.

“When it comes down to it, a playmaker has got to make plays, and we’re not doing a good job of that right now,” Kasdorf said. “We did some good things, but we just made too many mistakes to win this game, and we can’t do that where we’re at right now.”

Where the team is at right now is 1-4 overall and 1-1 in conference play at the midpoint of the regular season, with five difficult games looming on the horizon.

In an ominous sign of things to come, the Cougars fumbled the opening kickoff at their own 27-yard line. Bakersfield head coach Jeff Chudy said it set the tempo for the game.

“I really believe that opening kickoff ignited us,” Chudy said. “It was kind of a deal-breaker right from the get-go.”

Five plays later, Renegade sophomore running back Jalen Sykes plunged in from the 4-yard line to give Bakersfield (3-2, 1-1) a 7-0 lead with 13:11 left in the first quarter.

After Bakersfield’s Mercy Maston blocked Neil Franklin’s 37-yard field goal attempt, Renegade quarterback Brian Burrell engineered a 99-yard drive that culminated in a 31-yard scoring strike to Marquise Johnson to stake Bakersfield to a 14-0 advantage with 5:01 to go in the first.

Burrell completed 6-of-11 passes on the night for 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Tyler Schleicher’s 36-yard field goal split the uprights at 9:09 of the second quarter to make it 17-0 Renegades.

Bakersfield running back Curtis McGregor’s 44-yard sprint set up his own touchdown on the ensuing play, a 2-yard bolt up the middle that extended the Renegade lead to 24-0 at 4:36 before the break.

In a fitting conclusion to the first half, Bakersfield freshman defensive back Chris Hannible intercepted a Kasdorf pass and took it 96 yards for a touchdown with 31 seconds left in the second quarter, and the Renegades took a 31-0 lead into the locker room.

Bakersfield added on in the second half with Burrell’s 22-yard aerial to Thomas Hearn and Kwame Johnson’s 8-yard touchdown run.

So now it’s back to basics for the beleaguered Cougars, who travel to Antelope Valley College on Saturday for a non-conference matchup against the Marauders.

“It’s opened my eyes again to the basics of the game — you’ve got to block, you’ve got to tackle, you’ve got to do what you’re coached to do,” Tujague said. “I don’t know if they’re not getting it or we have to find a different way to communicate it to them.”

Bakersfield, undefeated at home this season, plays Saturday at El Camino College.


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