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Cougars battle through Warriors

McClellan, Carpenter power COC in record-setting performance

Posted: November 29, 2008 11:00 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2008 4:55 a.m.
It was community college football's version of an all-out war as College of the Canyons and El Camino College squared off in the Southern California Playoff Semifinals.

COC quarterback Brad McClellan turned in a career game while surviving a half-dozen bone-jarring sacks, Ricky Drake delivered three clutch field goals and Hayo Carpenter caught nearly everything throw in the 661 area code as the Cougars upended the Warriors 36-27 Saturday night at Cougar Stadium.

The No. 1 seed Cougars (12-0) will now host No. 3 seed Mt. San Antonio College (11-1) next Saturday in the Southern California Championship.

Mt. SAC earned the bid with a 34-27, double-overtime victory over second-seeded Fullerton College (10-2) Saturday.

The winner of that title game will face Northern California's Butte College of Oroville (11-0) in the state championship Dec. 13 at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

McClellan showed strong velocity with his passing arm after shaking off an injury to his throwing shoulder sustained in COC's overtime win over Pasadena three weeks earlier.

He was a one-man wrecking crew in the first half as he went 12-of-20 for 210 yards and a touchdown, and he added another 50 yards and a TD on the ground. He finished the game 15-for-27 for 300 yards and two touchdowns despite surviving all of those hard sacks.

"I knew in the second half when they really got to me, they were just going to pin their ears back and come with everything they had," McClellan said. "They threw the kitchen sink at us, so I just had to do what I could."

Carpenter was otherworldly, turning in 10 catches for 236 yards and two touchdowns, breaking his own school record for receiving yards in a game.

"The kid is rated No. 1 in the nation for a reason, and he proved that tonight," McClellan said of Carpenter. "That was the story of his night."

The road to the So Cal title game began with a hiccup for the Cougars as Drake's 34-yard, first-quarter field goal attempt was blocked.

But six minutes later, Drake drove a 32-yarder through the uprights to put COC on the scoreboard.

No. 4 seed El Camino (10-2) used a 65-yard kickoff return by Isaac Williams to set up its first score, a 20-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback James Coy to fullback Tony Sekona, giving ECC a 7-3 lead with 49 seconds to play in the first quarter.

COC offensive coordinator Don Fellows exploited a weakness in the El Camino secondary on the first play of the second quarter, with McClellan airing out a 56-yard rainbow for a touchdown to a wide-open Carpenter.

Coy countered with a 54-yard gainer to wide receiver William Bullock, but COC defensive lineman Dejaun Yates later blocked a 45-yard field goal try by Brian Blumberg to give the ball back to the Cougars.

McClellan then engineered a drive that culminated in Fred Winborn's 20th rushing touchdown of the season, a 12-yard jaunt off right tackle that staked COC to a 17-7 advantage with 10:38 to play in the second quarter.

After the Cougar defense held, McClellan used his legs to propel COC across the field on a series of lengthy runs.

On the final one, he danced into the end zone on a 9-yard, play-action keeper. Drake's point-after attempt drifted wide right, and COC carried a 23-7 lead into the locker room.

El Camino came out with a statement-making three sacks of McClellan on the first series of the second half. The Warriors turned that momentum into a 23-yard touchdown pass from Coy to Sione Tuli, cutting COC's lead to 23-14 early in the third.

Drake drove home a 47-yard field goal to extend COC's lead. The sophomore kicker seemed to get to the football quicker than he did when his first-quarter attempt was blocked. Drake then followed it up with a 23-yard field goal to open the fourth quarter.

A 60-yard McClellan-to-Carpenter touchdown dagger with 8:36 left to play gave the Cougars a 36-14 lead, their biggest of the night.

Coy's pair of late-game scoring strikes to Bullock and Dejarrius Adams weren't enough. Blumberg's extra point on the second of those two TDs would have made it a one-touchdown game, but he chipped it off the mark.

El Camino 23-year head coach John Featherstone said his players didn't play their best game.

"We were a little off, and our kids looked tired, but I thought Canyons took it right to us," Featherstone said. "They whipped our fannies (Saturday night)."

With Saturday's showdown with Mt. SAC looming, Tujague said it's back to basics next week.

"As long as we play Cougar football, we've got a chance," Tujague said. "That's all I'm asking for. With this group of young men and this coaching staff, I just want a chance."


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