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Cougars could rebound

After a tough loss, COC will try to return to form against winless Moorpark

Posted: October 9, 2009 11:48 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.
College of the Canyons football can’t afford another loss.

After falling to Allan Hancock College 19-16 in overtime last Saturday, the Cougars are now behind in the National Division, Northern Conference.

Seemingly, Moorpark would be like Tylenol for a COC team that has struggled on offense and after five games has lost more games than it did in the entire 2008 season.

Not so, warned Cougars head coach Garett Tujague.

He said the 0-4 Raiders, which COC plays tonight at 6 p.m. at Griffin Stadium in Moorpark, are still a threat — especially to a team like the Cougars (3-2) that has shown vulnerability.

In last week’s loss, COC fumbled, turned over on downs, threw an interception, then fumbled again on its first four drives.

The Cougars committed four turnovers in the game.

“I’m not going to say we beat ourselves, but I’m not going to say it was their defense in so much that we run a toss and drop the ball,” Tujague said, going on to list other offensive mishaps.

It may not be about repairing things on offense so much as accepting that this might be the year of the defense in the conference, Tujague said.

Five teams in the conference rank in the top 15 of the state.

The Cougars are middle-of-the-pack offensively, gaining just more than 340 yards per contest.

By comparison, Moorpark is averaging 19 less yards per game.

Where the Raiders have been most vulnerable is on defense, where they are giving up the third most yards in the state — 520.
Good news for COC’s offense.

The one player on that offense who has stepped up most recently, statistically speaking, is receiver D.J. Stephens.

He has two consecutive receiving games with more than 100 yards. On the season, he has 23 catches for 406 yards and four touchdowns.

Tujague said he is sticking with his two-quarterback system of Justin Morales and Eric Brown.

The coach admitted, though, that his defense is carrying the team right now.

Hancock managed only 228 yards last week.

COC was able to get pressure on the quarterback last week. Linebacker Evan Harrington continued his stellar season by adding two sacks. He is the team leader with four on the season. His 28 tackles also lead the Cougars.

As far as individuals COC has to be concerned with, Tujague named a pair of Moorpark receivers, Chris Gant and Justin Bradley.

Gant has five touchdown catches and is averaging 17.4 yards per reception.

On defense, Tujague said hard-hitting defensive back Meke Okechuk, linebacker Jarell Holland and lineman Aulama Lemalu have been impressive.

The Cougars, with eight playoff spots from five conferences for the Southern California postseason, are hoping they can get going.


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