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College football: Cougars’ quick collapse

COC gives up two game-changing touchdowns in span of 13 seconds, nets only 4 yards rushing

Posted: September 12, 2010 12:10 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2010 4:55 a.m.

WALNUT - Thirteen seconds.

That's all it took for the Mt. San Antonio College football team to wrestle away the lead, the momentum and the game from College of the Canyons in a Saturday afternoon slugfest.

Mt. SAC stunned the Cougars with a pair of quick touchdowns midway through the third quarter, then sealed it with a fourth-quarter score to put the game away for good.

Factor in COC's blunders on special teams, an inability to score inside the red zone and a missing-in-action running game, and the end result was a bitter 34-19 loss to the Mounties at Hilmer Lodge Stadium.

COC head coach Garett Tujague was frank in his assessment of what the immediate future on the practice field looks like.

"We know exactly what it is we need to get better at," Tujague said. "There's definitely not a shortage of things to work on."

A good place to start would be the ground game, which netted the Cougars (1-1) a grand total of 4 yards against reigning state champion Mt. SAC (2-0).

That forced COC quarterback Justin Arias to take to the air 62 times. The freshman completed 32 of those attempts, including a 34-yarder to wide receiver Cameron Bailey for a touchdown at the 8:04 mark of the third quarter that staked the Cougars to a 19-14 lead.

But Arias, under tremendous defensive pressure all day long, tossed two interceptions, including the backbreaker that turned the game around.

"Sometimes receivers were off, sometimes the line was off, sometimes I was off," Arias said. "We just couldn't get on the same page."

Mt. SAC answered Bailey's touchdown with one of its own, a 26-yard, open-field romp by running back Bryce McBride, who finished with a game-high 89 rushing yards. Jeremy Brown's extra point gave the Mounties a 21-19 lead with 6:33 to play in the third.

Then disaster struck.

On the very next play from scrimmage, 13 seconds later, Mt. SAC linebacker Richard Thorpe picked off an Arias pass and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown. Brown's point-after attempt sailed wide right, but it really didn't matter as the Mounties held a 27-19 lead and all of the momentum.

"I think that interception really gave us the ability to go ahead and separate a little bit," said Mt. SAC head coach Bob Jastrab. "It kind of put them in panic mode, having to score as we got deeper into the game."

Early in the fourth quarter, Arias was picked off again, this time by defensive back Treyvon Ralph in Mt. SAC's end zone.

Tujague said Arias delivered a solid performance, considering the amount of pressure he was under.

"Justin knew we had to get the ball down the field, and didn't say anything about it. He just tried to make things happen," Tujague said.

A 17-yard touchdown pass from Mounties quarterback Nick Lamaison to wide receiver Michael Edwards set the final score with 8:03 left to play.

Lamaison completed 19-of-41 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Most of his net 45 rushing yards came on a pair of third-down scampers that went for important first downs in the second half.

"Traditionally, I don't run a lot. I really just try to find the open man," Lamaison said. "But sometimes things go a little different and you've got to adjust to it, so that's what I did."

The two teams traded touchdowns to open the game, the Cougars on Ryan Zirbel's 2-yard run and Mt. SAC on Lamaison's 12-yarder to Alonzo Agwuenu. Khalil Bass' interception set up COC's next score, an 11-yard touchdown run by Emanuel Osuchukwu.

COC was hit with a pair of safeties less than eight minutes apart courtesy of Mt. SAC's relentless defense that brought the Mounties to within a point at 12-11. A 23-yard Mt. SAC field goal by Brown with 31 seconds left before the break put the Mounties back into the lead at 14-12.

Special teams woes for COC included a blocked extra point, a failed two-point conversion and a long-snap from center that sailed over punter Christian Nastos' head.

Bright spots on defense were two interceptions by Josh Irvin, 12 tackles by Bass and eight tackles from Emanuel Koleosho.

COC will play its home opener Saturday against Citrus College. Mt. SAC will travel to College of the Desert.

NOTES: Mt. SAC entered the season ranked No. 1 in the nation by JCGridiron and No. 1 in the state by the California Community College Football Coaches Association. ... Saturday's game was only the second meeting between the Cougars and the Mounties in the history of the two schools. In 2008, Mt. SAC scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 10 seconds of the game to capture the Southern California Football Association Championship.




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