No. 5 College of the Canyons earned its first Bowl Game win of the Ted Iacenda era, downing No. 6 Mt. San Antonio College 28-16 in the 2017 Western State Bowl at Cougar Stadium on Saturday night.
The two teams played to a scoreless first quarter before COC freshman quarterback Andrew Brito and the Cougar offense were able to find their rhythm.
Brito, who led the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) in passing with 2,854 passing yards, connected with Leroy Deshazor for a 25-yard touchdown pass, capping an eight-play 80-yard drive with 8:37 to go in the first quarter. The PAT by Ryan Sinclair was good and Canyons as ahead 7-0.
After a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mountie quarterback Richard Stammetti to Darrian Hambrick just four and half minutes later, the two teams were knotted up at 7-7.
With the opening half drawing to a close, Brito again pushed the Cougars down the field, eventually connecting with Jarrin Pierce on a two-yard scoring pass to head into the locker room up 14-7.
The Brito to Pierce connection proved electric once more in the third quarter, with Brito able to find the freshman speedster for a 24-yard touchdown toss that capped another extended drive, and put the Cougars clearly in the driver's seat at 21-7 early in the third quarter.
The Mounties battled back, eventually settling for a 39-yard field goal with 7:20 to go in the third, making it a 21-10 COC lead.
But Brito and company weren't done yet. This time the dual-threat quarterback, who earned game MVP honors, was able to scamper into the end zone for a two-yard rushing touchdown putting the score at 28-10.
With the clock winding down Stammetti and the Mounties drove 59-yards to find the end zone on a nine-yard pass to Brice Hoenisch.
But by then the outcome was all but finalized, with the Cougars ready to celebrate the program's first bowl game win since the 2008 season.
Brito finished the game 26-of-45 for 217 yards and three touchdowns through the air, adding another on the ground.
Defensive end Dorian Gerald recorded two sacks, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and batted down a pass to end his Cougar career on a high note.
Mt. SAC wide receiver Cameron Coleman was named the offensive player of the game after hauling in eight passes for 112 yards.Stammetti looked to Coleman often in finishing the game 19-of-35 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 33 rushing yards.
Defensive back Lamar Dawson recorded nine tackles for the Mounties defense, as did linebacker Anthony Rosales, who also added a sack.
With the win, Canyons (9-2, 4-1) bested the 8-3 record established by the Cougars in 2013, Iacenda's first at the helm.
The nine victories for the Cougars represents the most in a season since the 2008 team posted a 12-1 mark.
The win over perennial powerhouse Mt. SAC was the second in recent years for Iacenda and the Cougars, who previously defeated the Mounties in week one of the 2015 campaign. Conversely, Mt. SAC beat COC in the 2014 season opener, and again in last year's Golden State Bowl.
The Mounties (8-3, 4-1) finished the season as National Division, Central League tri-champions and entered Saturday's game vs. Canyons having won 12 straight bowl games, going undefeated in such contests under head coach Bob Jastrab.
Archived footage of the SoCalCollegeSports.com live stream of the 2017 Western State Bowl can be found here.
— Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information
— Photo by Tim Strong/COC Sports Information