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College football: Just out of Cougs’ reach

Late interception, fumble cost College of the Canyons in comeback attempt against

Posted: October 14, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 14, 2012 2:00 a.m.

College of the Canyons' Shane Drozdowski is just short of catching a pass in the second half of the game against Ventura College in the game played at Cougar Stadium in Valencia on Saturday. Ventura went on to defeat the Cougars 44-37.

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As momentum-changers go, this was a biggie.

The College of the Canyons football team saw its four-point halftime lead evaporate in an instant against Ventura College when Jordan Howard returned the second-half kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.

The Cougars never fully recovered as Ventura methodically wrestled away control and posted a 44-37 victory in a National Division, Northern Conference slugfest Saturday night at Cougar Stadium.

The loss sends the Cougars (2-5, 1-2) mercifully into the bye week before they return to face Moorpark, Cerritos and Allan Hancock on consecutive Saturdays to close out the regular season.

Ventura (7-0, 3-0), which entered the game as one of only five undefeated teams in the state, will host Cerritos on Saturday.

After Ventura busted out of the locker room for the third quarter with Howard’s heroics, COC kicker Neil Franklin’s 24-yard field goal got the Cougars even at 30-30.

But Ventura went back on top on a 1-yard plunge by quarterback Ebahn Feathers at 2:23 of the third.

The Pirates added on with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Feathers to tight end Dennis Savoy that pushed Ventura to its largest lead of the night at 44-30 with 13 minutes left to play.

COC quarterback Ryan Kasdorf’s 18-yard scoring toss to Kwasi Washington closed the gap at 44-37 at the 11:18 mark. But an interception by Ventura’s PJ Gremaud was costly for the Cougars, as the Pirates used it to take valuable time off the clock.

COC had two chances to tie it late, but Lakeith Murray’s interception — Kasdorf’s fourth of the night — with 4:46 left to play put on the brakes. Then on COC’s final drive, Tim White’s fumble at midfield turned out the lights.

When the game started, it seemed as though someone had forgotten to tell the Cougars they were squaring off against the No. 2-ranked team in Southern California, as the Cougars withstood every roundhouse punch Ventura College could muster.

The scoring got underway when Feathers threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to running back Willie Willis with 5:26 left to play in the first quarter.

Feathers followed it up a couple of minutes later with a 7-yard TD toss to Victor Caro, and after the Cougars blocked the point-after attempt, the Pirates led 13-0.

COC eventually clicked into gear as the team put a pair of touchdowns on the scoreboard in a 46-second span. First, Kasdorf connected with Washington from 17 yards as time expired in the first quarter.

The Cougars caught Ventura off guard with an ensuing onsides kick that was recovered by COC reserve quarterback Ron Clark.

After Kasdorf’s 42-yard rainbow to White set the table, the signal caller found Drew Phillips on a 7-yard scoring strike that gave the Cougars a 14-13 lead with 14:14 left in the second quarter.

Ventura then regained the lead at 20-14 on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Feathers to Dylan McDaniel.

Kasdorf’s second interception of the night led to a 29-yard field goal by Ventura kicker Carlos Luna. After that, Kasdorf engineered a long drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown bolt up the middle by Andre Davis to cut Ventura’s lead to 23-21 with 3:17 to go in the first half.

The Cougar defense gave Kasdorf a shot to regain the lead in the first half, and he responded by putting together another lengthy drive, this one capped by Golden Valley grad Earl Johnson’s 5-yard sweep for a score.

After the extra point was blocked and nearly returned the other way for two points, COC took a 27-23 lead into the break.

Kasdorf, coming off last week’s impressive 499-yard passing performance in a double-overtime win against Antelope Valley, finished the night 26-of-56 for 374 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.

Feathers had an efficient night as he collected 289 yards and was 22-of-35 with four scores and no picks.

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