If the Cougars are going to have a chance to go deep into the playoffs, it may very well be on the play of their extremely talented defense. Sophomore cornerback Lance Poole had a school record four of the six Cougar interceptions on the night, and the defense held off a tough Moorpark team in time for College of the Canyons get things going in the second half, en route to a 35-17 conference win.
Following the win, College of the Canyons is sitting strong at 7-1 and 4-0 in conference and will host Cerritos College on Nov. 4 in a game with huge playoff and conference title implications. But the Cougars had to get through the Raiders first, and in the opening half, it looked like it might be a long night.
COC could only muster a single score, but still led the Raiders 7-3 at the break. Quarterback Tony Dawson scampered in for a score from 20 yards out in the first quarter. It was the first of three rushing touchdowns he would have on the night, and ended a drive that began with the first of Poole’s four interceptions. The Raiders answered at the end of the quarter with a Chris Taylor 30-yard field goal to trim the Cougar lead to four, but neither team would put up points in the second quarter.
Moorpark came out strong in the second half, and briefly took the lead as Josh Robles ran in from two yards out. COC responded quickly though, as just three plays later, Tony Dawson found a streaking Louis Gipson for a 65-yard score, retaking the lead at 14-10.
On the very next offensive play, it was Poole again, picking off an errant Moorpark pass at the Raider 35. Two minutes later, it was Dawson took it in from one yard out, giving the Cougars a 21-10 lead. The two scores in less than three minutes seemed to take the wind out of the Raiders sails. The third of Dawson’s scores came in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, giving COC a 28-10 lead, and essentially closing the door on any hopes of a Moorpark resurgence.
Dawson finished the night with 95 yards rushing and three scores on 14 carries, and he also completed 9-of-18 passes for 157 yards and another score. Running back Matt Bowen had another big night, gaining 157 yards on 18 carries, with one score.
Defensively, it was a huge night for Poole, who added two pass breakups and five tackles to go along with his four interceptions. Poole also tied the school record for interceptions in a career after combining the four he has this year and two he had in the 2012 season. Linebacker Ryan McAleenan had a strong night with eight tackles and two sacks.
The Cougars now look ahead to a monster game with Cerritos College, who are tired with COC for first place in the conference. Game time is 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4 at Cougar Stadium.