Stock College of the Canyons action image from game vs. Antelope Valley College on Sept. 30, 2023.

Cougars Roll Over AVC 29-7 on Homecoming Night

By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director

College of the Canyons won its third straight game to the delight of a lively Homecoming crowd at Cougar Stadium on Saturday night, riding a 20-point output in the third quarter to seize a 29-7 conference victory over Antelope Valley College. 

Canyons (3-2, 2-0) saw a trio of rushing touchdowns from Malik Brooks and Donovan Dunn in that decisive third quarter, as the Cougars' defense did its part by shutting out AVC (1-4, 0-2) through the final 49 minutes of the contest. 

The Marauders found the end zone just once, on a 26-yard run from quarterback Sharmon Rester II that tied the game at 7-7 with 4:34 to go in the first quarter.

Prior to that, it was Robin Verginelli putting COC on the board with a one-yard touchdown plunge. Asa Johnson made it 7-0 with the PAT. 

Verginelli's scoring run was his second in as many weeks and came on the heels of a magnificent 52-yard double-pass from Brooks to Travis Royal on the Cougars' first offensive snap of the game. 

Brooks was all over the field for Canyons, topping his 52-yard gain through the air with a team-high 58 rushing yards and two touchdowns on eight attempts, alongside two catches for 42 yards.

COC tacked on two points on a safety with 7:40 to go in the opening half. At that point in the game those points seemed crucial as the Marauders and Cougars continued to go back and forth in a scrappy opening session. 

The two sides traded punts on three occasions across the first two quarters in a defensive minded start to the contest. Before recording the safety Canyons used a 17-play, 72-yard drive to bring things to the one-yard line but had Carlos Meza's short run stuffed at the one-yard line.

That momentum shift for AVC was short lived, however, as COC answered with the safety on the next snap. Near the end of the half Will Maafu jarred the ball lose from an AVC runner with Mister Varner was there to scoop it up, the first of three forced turnovers for the Cougars.

Brooks started the second-half scoring on a 21-yard touchdown run combining with Johnson's PAT for a 16-7 advantage. 

Two plays later COC defensive back Timothy Jackson snagged a Rester ball out of the air for his first of two interceptions on the night.  

On the Cougars' next drive a 23-yard pass from Emory Floyd to Lyndon Ravare put the ball at the one-yard line before Donovan Dunn took it the rest of the way to help put COC in complete control at 23-7. 

With the next AVC drive also came Jackson's second interception, as the sophomore returned this one 60-yards down to the Marauders' five-yard line. That sequence set up the second scoring run from Brooks, a two-yarder, that put the game at 29-7 final after a muffed PAT attempt. 

Jackson was named the Chick-Fil-A Player of the Game for his efforts which included the two key interceptions. 

Canyons recorded six sacks in the game as JoJo Massey, Maafu, RB Wilson V, Joseph Marsh and Matias Ortiz Jr. were all credited with quarterback takedowns. Ortiz led the squad with two. Varner added a forced fumble and three tackles to his first-half recovery.

Floyd finished the game a quiet 11-of-24 for 214 yards in leading a Cougars' offensive unit that churned out 395 yards of total offense, with 129 coming on the ground. Dunn's 10 carries were a team high and led to 38 yards and the score.

Lyndon Ravare once again led the Canyons receiving corps with three catches for 94 yards. Noah Staples also emerged with four catches for 56 yards and was active in the run game with several key blocks.

AVC was just 3-of-14 on third downs with 225 yards of total offense in dropping its third straight contest.

Canyons has lost to AVC just once since the Cougars reinstated their football program in 1998.

COC entered week five ranked No. 21 in the state according to the JC Athletic Bureau Head Coaches Poll and No. 23 in the most recent California Community College Sports Information Directors Association (CCCSIA) poll released Sept. 25.

The Cougars now enter the bye week before a Thursday night contest at El Camino College on Oct. 12. That game is scheduled for 6 p.m. 

Canyons, El Camino (4-1, 2-0) and Ventura College (3-2, 2-0) will begin the second half of the season tied atop the SCFA National Division, Northern League standings.

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 X, InstagramFacebook and YouTube 

—Photo by Dylan Stewart/1550 Sports