The College of the Canyons Cougars came into their final non-conference home game against the East Los Angeles Huskies looking to carry their momentum into conference play. The Cougars offense found their stride last week at Citrus College with Quarterback Chris Rini and Wide Receivers Chris Rivas and Matt Szmanski putting up season high numbers.
The Cougars looked impressive in their opening drive, marching 46 yards down field only to lose the ball on a Chris Rini fumble at the Huskies 13 yard line. The Huskies were unable to capitalize on the turnover going three and out.
After Husky punter, Julio Segura skyrocketed the ball straight up in the air netting only an abysmal eight yards, the Cougars were in prime real estate to draw first blood. On second and two, Owen again handed the ball to Wilson who ran down the sideline and dove over the last defender in his way into the end zone to put the Cougars on the board 7-0 with 9:29 remaining in the first quarter.
Throughout the first quarter, East L.A. looked completely unprepared for the Cougars failing to cross midfield until the last drive of the quarter. After stopping the Cougars on fourth and 7, Husky Quarterback Aaron Cantu looked to ride the new found momentum hitting Luther Walker for 39 yards and entering Cougar territory for the first time. After driving to the Cougar 7 yard line, with time about to expire in the first quarter, Cantu was sacked by Cougar freshman defensive end, Justyn Eddins, for a 5 yard loss on a third and goal attempt bringing the first quarter to an end. East L.A would have to settle for 3 points on a 47 yard field goal by Carlos Portillo.
The next drive Tyler D’Amore took over at Quarterback. The Cougars would take advantage of good field position after Adam Schechter took the kickoff back to midfield. COC pounded the Husky defense on the ground including a 32 yard run by Matt Bowen. COC drove to the 1 yard line and Tyler D’Amore got behind his big offensive line and punched it in to put COC up 14-3.
Both defenses seemed to take the second quarter off as neither team could get a stop on defense. East L.A. drove 83 yards capped off by a 1 yard run by Cantu to pull within 3 but COC would waste no time to pull away again. Tyler D’Amore looked to show his coaches what he could do when he gets a chance to play. The third string Quarterback completed 7 of 9 passes for 73 yards hitting Chris Rivas to make it 21-10 COC. “I practice every single day as hard as I can trying to get prepared,” D’Amore said of his first major playing time since high school, “and its a good feeling to get back on the field.”
Cougars got the ball to start off the second half and made it obvious that they were not going to slow down when Schechter took the kickoff back 33 yards into Husky territory. Chris Rini was back in under center and directed the Cougars downfield capped off by a 7 yard touchdown run by Rini making the score 28-10.
The Cougars would score again on their next drive with Rini threading the needle to Chris Rivas in the back of the end zone to put the Cougars up 35-10.
East L.A. had not thrown in the towel just yet as Cantu hit Chris Clark for a beautiful over the shoulder catch in the end zone from 14 yards out to keep the game within reach for the Huskies.
In the fourth quarter, D’Amore dashed any hope of an East L.A. comeback with a 5-yard score for what would be the last score of the game, the Cougars winning 42-17.
After the game COC Head Coach, Garett Tujague explained his strategy for this game and how important it was heading towards conference play. “Coach [Terry] Gourley and I decided Thursday night that we were going to go playground rules. Winner stays and if you score you stay on the field, if you don’t, you get pulled off.” He explained, “I think the most important thing behind that is to know that this conference that is coming up is brutal, and every single one of the quarterbacks has got to have reps because they are one play away from being injured, so the more reps we give guys in games early on, the better they’ll have a chance to compete in conference.”
The Cougars will travel to 1-3 Grossmont College in El Cajon on Saturday to play their last non-conference game and avenge last years loss to the Griffins. Kickoff is at 1pm.