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College football: Defense carries Cougars

College of the Canyons forces four turnovers in rout of East Los Angeles College; offense sputters

Posted: September 25, 2010 11:07 p.m.
Updated: September 26, 2010 4:55 a.m.

MONTEREY PARK - College of the Canyons football leaned on its defense Saturday night at East Los Angeles College.

And in the end it was simply too much for the Huskies to handle.

In a day riddled with offensive mistakes, COC's defense provided all the spark the team needed in a 33-6 win over ELAC, which was held to just 221 yards of total offense.

The Huskies' lone score came on an interception returned for a touchdown.

"They did an amazing job," said COC head coach Garett Tujague of the defense.

COC (3-1) opened the game with a solid drive, running the ball with tailbacks Ryan Zirbel and Emanuel Osuchukwu. When the Cougars finally went to the air, quarterback Justin Arias found Canyon grad Chris Rivas wide open in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard score.

After that, COC didn't find much offensive rhythm for the remainder of the first half.

Arias, who was replaced by Chris Rini at halftime, finished the day 5-for-12 with 28 yards, the touchdown and an interception, which was returned 25 yards for a score in the first quarter. After a botched extra point, the Huskies trailed 7-6.

In five trips to the red zone, the Arias-led offense only managed 16 points, with seven coming off a 20-yard interception return by Cougars safety Josh Irvin later in the first quarter.

Irvin snagged a second pick midway through the second quarter and returned it for a another touchdown, but the play was called back on an illegal blocking penalty.

"Coach puts us in the right spot to jump those out-routes," Irvin said.

Osuchukwu added a 1-yard touchdown to make the score 23-6 with 7:35 left in the first half.

In all, the defense forced four turnovers and allowed just four net rushing yards on the night.

It was the second straight week COC won a game despite offensive struggles.

"We're young, and we're gelling and I think, to be honest, the problem might be that we're adlibbing it a little bit," Tujague said, explaining that the quarterbacks aren't always going through the proper progressions.

The Huskies (1-3) started quarterback Richard Ragland, who normally backs up Mike Oliver.

But after Ragland went 2-for-7 for 10 yards and an interception, ELAC head coach Lynn Cain decided to put in Oliver, who was on the bench with a lingering illness.

"We needed to settle down and play, and we couldn't continue going in the direction we were going," Cain said.
Oliver tallied 207 yards on 17-for-36 passing with one interception.

COC's replacement also saw some success.

Rini led the offense on a scoring drive to open the second half. The drive was capped off by an 8-yard touchdown pass to Zirbel to make the score 30-8.

Rini went 6-for-7 with 54 yards and touchdown.

Zirbel led all rushers in the game with 62 yards on 11 carries.

Cougars kicker Everett Goldberg later added his team's final points on a 40-yard field. It was his second field goal of the game after hitting one from 28 yards in the second quarter.




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