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COC football: COC’s season sees final gauge

Up-and-down season for Cougars will end in Bakersfield

Posted: November 19, 2010 11:17 p.m.
Updated: November 19, 2010 11:17 p.m.

Make no mistake about it.

College of the Canyons football has plenty to play for when it faces the state’s No. 13-ranked team, Fullerton College, today at 3 p.m. in the Golden Empire Bowl at Bakersfield College.

The No. 21 Cougars (6-4) can avoid finishing a second straight season with a loss in a bowl game and a 6-5 record.
It would be the first time since 1980-81 that a COC football team won less than seven games two years in a row.

Not to mention the pride factor.

“For the sophomores, this is your last chance,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague. “This is the last book. This is what you’re going to be remembered as.”

The game will take place on the same slippery, muddy grass field where the Cougars were handed a 41-14 defeat at the hands of Bakersfield College just seven days ago.

The venue was fine with Tujague. The result wasn’t.

“It’s bittersweet because yeah, we’re playing in the best bowl in Southern California as far as the host and as far as the sponsor, and they do a great job up there,” he said. “But, in order to play in this bowl, you’re out of the playoffs.”

With last week’s loss, COC finished in third place in the National Division, Northern Conference and was knocked out of the Southern California playoff hunt.

Similarly, Fullerton (6-4) finished third in the National Division, Southern Conference and also lost its chance at a playoff berth after being edged out by No. 3 Saddleback College 42-39 last week.

The Hornets come in with the 14th-ranked offense in the state, averaging 410.3 yards per game.

A good portion of that production comes from running back Kelvin York, who was named the Southern Conference’s Most Valuable Player this year.

York ran for 1,283 yards and 14 touchdowns in the regular season.

Fullerton quarterback Darius Banks balances out the unit with his 1,945 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions through the air.

COC has also shown the ability to tally plenty of yards on offense, but Tujague isn’t concerned with yards. His concern is ball-control.

“You talk about this and you talk about that, but the bottom line is you have to hold onto the football,” Tujague said.

Last week, the Cougars threw two interceptions and lost a fumble all within a two-minute span in the second quarter. The turnovers led to 14 Bakersfield points and put the Cougars in an early hole from which they never recovered.

The good news is COC’s defense has been consistent in getting the ball back, forcing 38 turnovers this year — 19 interceptions and 19 recovered fumbles.

That could be the difference in today’s contest, which will conclude another year of Cougar football.

“That Bakersfield game was the last game of the 2010 season, and right now, this is all about 2011,” Tujague said.


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