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COC football: Cougars hand over hopes

Turnovers too much for College of the Canyons to overcome, could miss the playoffs after defeat

Posted: November 13, 2010 11:11 p.m.
Updated: November 14, 2010 4:55 a.m.

BAKERSFIELD - Everything was going as planned for College of the Canyons football in its regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon.

Or at least it was for the opening possession of the game against Bakersfield College, until COC's 62-yard drive ended with a missed field-goal attempt.

Not much went right for the Cougars after that as Bakersfield cruised to a 41-14 victory at Memorial Stadium in Bakersfield, putting COC's playoff hopes in jeopardy.

"When you play in a game of this magnitude, you've got to make those plays," said Cougars head coach Garett Tujague.
COC (6-4, 3-2) entered the game with a chance to earn an automatic berth in the Southern California playoffs because of its standing in the National Division, Northern Conference.

With the loss, the Cougars will likely be left out of the playoff picture. Without a conference title, the team will have to qualify for one of the two remaining at-large spots based on a power-index ranking.

At No. 15 in the state, it doesn't appear COC is in the running for a spot, but it can play in one of Southern California's seven bowl games.

Things started going awry for COC on the first play of the second quarter, when quarterback Justin Arias fumbled a handoff attempt and set up the Renegades at the COC 19-yard line.

Leading 3-0, Bakersfield (8-2, 4-1) scored four plays later on a 1-yard run by Julian Dean-Johnson, giving his team a 10-point advantage.

On COC's very next offensive play, Arias was hit as he threw a ball that floated into the hands of Bakersfield defensive back Tyler Dogins, who returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.

The Cougars, already down 17-0, lost another fumble on the ensuing kickoff that gave the Renegades the ball at the COC 42-yard line.

Though it didn't directly lead to another score, the turnover put COC's defense in difficult spots the rest of the half.

"It was all execution. We just didn't execute at all," said Cougar defensive end Donovan Brownlee. "We made a lot of mistakes against a very good Bakersfield team."

Bakersfield scored two more times, on a Dean-Johnson run from 4-yards out and on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Lyle Negron to Brandon Hobdy just before halftime to put Bakersfield ahead 31-0.

Dean-Johnson finished with 53 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries.

"We got the ball first. We were moving the ball well, but we've just repeated it over and over again: You can't make those mistakes," Tujague said.

Coming out of the break, the Cougar defense did what it could to try to get COC back into the game by forcing a few three-and-outs, but the offense couldn't capitalize.

If it wasn't a penalty, it was a missed block assignment on a blitz that killed promising drives for the Cougars throughout the second half.

COC finally got on the board when Arias found Michael Prieto in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make the score 34-7.

It was the Cougars' only offensive points, as they scored later in the quarter on a 32-yard fumble recovery and return by safety Antwan Smith.

Arias finished 17-of-36 with 196 yards, two interceptions and the one touchdown.

The Cougars totaled 226 offensive yards.

The 2010 regular season is in the books, but COC will await its possible bowl-game matchup next week.




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