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College football: COC makes a bowl game

Strong finish gives Cougars a spot in Southern California Bowl

Posted: November 12, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 12, 2012 1:55 a.m.
College of the Canyons cornerback Samuel Lee (1) intercepts an pass on Saturday at COC. College of the Canyons cornerback Samuel Lee (1) intercepts an pass on Saturday at COC.
College of the Canyons cornerback Samuel Lee (1) intercepts an pass on Saturday at COC.

One of the most wild seasons in the history of College of the Canyons football will extend another week.

COC will play in the Southern California Bowl against Santa Ana College on Saturday, the California Community College Athletic Association announced Sunday.

The Cougars (6-4) had to win their last three games and four of their last five to reach the minimum six-win mark to qualify for a bowl game. This came after COC began the season 1-4 before learning a Sept. 15 loss to College of the Desert was later converted to a win when it was ruled that Desert used an in ineligible player.

Even then, COC needed a major midseason revival to fight back to a winning record.

“I’d love to say there’s some secret recipe or something like that,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague of the turnaround. “But it really comes down to believing in each other and understanding what’s being taught by some of these coaches and going out and doing it,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague.

The sixth-year head coach points to three weeks ago as a key moment.

At the time, COC was 3-4 and needing to finish undefeated through its last three games to stay alive for a postseason bid.

First came a come-from-behind 21-20 win over Moorpark on Oct. 27, followed by another wild comeback for a 38-36 win against Cerritos a week later.

It culminated in a 47-36 victory at home over Allan Hancock College on Saturday, which helped bump the Cougars to a third-place finish in the National Division, Northern Conference.

“It’s definitely going down as one of the most fun experiences in my professional career,” Tujague said.

COC will travel to face Santa Ana (7-3) at Santa Ana College on Saturday at a time to be announced later. The bowl game is not part of the Southern California playoffs, meaning the Cougars cannot advance or play for a state championship. This will be COC’s final game of the season regardless of the outcome.

Santa Ana finished third in the National Division, Southern Conference, but also beat Desert, Saddleback and Golden West along the way.

All three of those teams beat the Cougars on the field.

Tujague said the Dons are an offensively balanced team and a stout defensive team, but said he’s looking forward to the matchup given the amount of momentum COC has built.

“I think these guys have learned a lot,” Tujague said of his team. “I think they can play the game at any level and be successful. You also look at (the bowl game) as another opportunity to get a lot of exposure.”

The Cougars are 1-1 all time against the Dons, with the last matchup coming in 2002.

The last time COC played in a bowl game was 2010, when it lost 64-49 to Fullerton College in the Golden Empire Bowl held in Bakersfield.

The Cougars haven’t won a bowl game since 2008, when they knocked off Antelope Valley 41-17 in the Western State Bowl, which also served as the first round of the Southern California playoffs.


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