Led by a high-powered offensive attack, No. 20 College of the Canyons came away with a hard fought victory over No. 11 Long Beach City College in a 52-42 shootout at Cougar Stadium on Saturday night.
Canyons did not waste any time taking control. After forcing a three-and-out on the Vikings' opening possession, Brandon Pierce returned the Long Beach punt 41 yards setting up COC at the Long Beach 39-yard line. On the Cougars' first offensive play of the game sophomore running back Keland White bounced outside and went 39 yards for the touchdown putting Canyons on the board 7-0 just 46 seconds into the contest.
COC extended its lead late in the first quarter as the offense got big plays from Jalen Logan, Pierce, and RB Marlow on a 61-yard scoring drive. COC quarterback Andrew Brito finished the eight-play possession when he found receiver Leroy Deshazor, who made an impressive leaping catch in the end zone for the nine-yard touchdown. The ensuing PAT by Louis Eusebi made it 14-0.
Long Beach's offense broke through in the second quarter when running back Elijah Bynum found a big hole going 14 yards to the house on a well-executed run that capped off a 56-yard drive and gave the Vikings some momentum at 14-7.
Brito and the Cougars answered right back, however, with the freshman completing a perfect pass to a streaking Desean Holmes who went all the way to the end zone on a 47-yard touchdown pass. The big play extended the COC lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter.
Things started to pick up on the ensuing kickoff when LBCC's Guy Alford broke free for a 50-yard kick return, setting the Vikings up deep in Canyons territory. Long Beach did not waste the good field position and eventually found the end-zone on a nine-yard Grant Lowary touchdown pass to Cedric Byrd that closed the gap to 21-14.
On the next possession, Canyons drove down inside the Long Beach 10-yard line but a costly fumble by Brito allowed Vikings defensive back Justin Prince to scoop up the ball and take it all the way back for the 98-yard defensive touchdown, which tied the game at 21-21.
COC took the lead again on the last possession of the first half, when quarterback Darryn Blackshere led a two-minute offense that put the Cougars in field-goal range. Eusebi nailed the 26-yard kick giving the Cougars a 24-21 lead heading into halftime.
After the break, Canyons was able to build on that momentum. Brito eventually returned to the game and promptly led the Cougars offense on an eight-play, 78-yard scoring drive with White finding the end zone for his second score of the night. The nine-yard touchdown run and PAT from Eusebi gave COC a 31-21 lead.
Long Beach kept the game within reach, as the Vikings answered with a touchdown drive of their own capped by a big 25-yard run from Bynum to see the back-and-forth contest continue at 31-28.
COC's running game continued to dominate on the ensuing possession, with sophomore Jalen Logan finding the open field and going on a 37-yard run to set COC up deep in Vikings territory. From there, Brito finished off the drive by hitting Marlow on a 13-yard pass for his second touchdown toss of the night, putting the COC advantage back to 10 points at 38-28.
Long Beach later capitalized on another Brito turnover, and brought it back to a one possession game when Bynum scored his third touchdown of the game, this time on a one-yard plunge that shifted momentum back to the Vikings and put the score at 38-35.
That's where it stayed until about midway through the fourth quarter when Brito scrambled and eventually found an open seem that allowed him to scamper into the end zone for an exciting 44-yard touchdown run that ignited the crowd and gave COC some breathing room at 45-35.
The Vikings stayed alive by getting another big kick return, this time a 56-yard run from Byrd that set up LBCC inside the COC red zone. Once again, it was Bynum finding the end zone, this time on a 10-yard run, as the high-scoring affair continued at 45-42.
With two minutes left in the game the Cougar defense was able to put the game away when freshman linebacker K.J. Latu game down with a clutch interception. From there, White ran to the end zone for his third touchdown of the game, officially shutting the door on the Vikings at 52-42.
The two teams combined to produce 939 yards of total offense, 53 first downs and 12 offensive touchdowns in the game.
Canyons was responsible for 578 yards of total offense, including a season-high 318 yards on the ground.
White finished the evening with 136 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries to lead the way. Jalen Logan chipped in with 60 yards on 11 carries, with Brito also adding 84 yards on the ground.
In the pocket, Brito was 15-of-27 for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
Jarrin Pierce was COC's leading receiver with six catches for 112 yards. Holmes also had a big night, finishing with 89 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.
Canyons (3-1) will next travel to Grossmont (2-2) on Saturday, Sept. 30 for an early 3 p.m. kickoff.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
— Photo and story by Tim Strong/COC Sports Information