No. 17 Canyons Closes Regular Season 21-19 Over No. 9 Ventura
By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
No. 17 College of the Canyons knocked off No. 9 Ventura College 21-19 at Cougar Stadium on Saturday, doing its best to try and spoil the Pirates' postseason plans by coming away with a satisfying victory against its conference rival in the regular season finale.
The Cougars rolled up 448 yards of total offense, including 235 yards on the ground, in a dramatic bounce back performance after last week's road loss at Bakersfield.
The bulk of that damage was charged to sophomore quarterback Emery Floyd who rushed for a season-best 136 yards on 14 carries, with a long gain of 41. Floyd also passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns on an efficient 14-of-19 performance that involved a wide selection of the Cougars receiving corps.
Backup quarterback Cam Fouts played an offensive series for Canyons, making the most of his opportunity by going 4-for-4 with 20 yards and a touchdown to show for it. The Cougars' two signal callers combined to connect with eight receivers in the game.
COC running back Malik Brooks led all pass catchers with five receptions for 117 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown grab from Floyd with 2:01 to go in the first quarter.
That score tied the game at 7-7 following a 19-yard run from Ventura running back Lamonte James that opened the scoring at the 5:04 mark of the game.
Late in the second quarter it was Bryce Dickson hauling in an eight-yard pass from Fouts to go ahead 14-7 after Asa Johnson's PAT. Dickson, a converted quarterback who moved to the slot in recent weeks, finished tied for the team lead in receptions, catching five passes for 46 yards.
Canyons took a 14-7 lead into halftime and was quick to look for more after forcing a three-and-out to begin the second half. From there it took Floyd just six plays before hooking up with Noah Staples for a 13-yard touchdown strike. Johnson's PAT was true once again and COC was in business at 21-7.
Neither side found the end zone again until James' second touchdown run got the Pirates to within a score with :40 seconds to go in the third quarter. But the Cougars' defense was able to block the PAT attempt to keep its advantage at 21-13.
Timothy Jackson returned the blocked kick all the way back for the score but had the potential scoring play negated by a personal foul for excessive celebration on his way to the end zone. Carlos Rivera was credited with the blocked kick.
James finished with 110 yards on 16 carries for the Pirates.
VC running back Jaylen Thompson got the Pirates back to within two points on his 25-yard touchdown run with 9:04 to go, bringing things to 21-19. Needing to make up for the missed PAT on its previous score, the Pirates went for two but were denied.
Thompson ended the night with 130 yards on 17 carries in another strong performance from the Ventura run game.
Canyons went on to chew nearly seven minutes of clock across its next two possessions but were halted on a pivotal 4th-and-1 play at the Ventura 25-yard line. That gave the Pirates new hope with :40 remaining in the game.
Ventura was able to move the ball into COC territory after another personal foul penalty placed the ball on the Cougars' 35-yard line with just a few ticks left. But VC quarterback Chris Irvin's final attempt was off the mark as time expire. Irvin finished the game 16-of-22 for 95 yards.
Marsh added a sack, his team-leading seventh of the season, while RB Wilson V and Roderick Colquitt both had key quarterback takedowns in the game. The three sacks allowed by the Pirates represented a season high.
Canyons recorded a total of six tackles for loss in the game with Cain Omohundro and Jackson combining for one, and the duo of Rivera and Ajani Smith each adding another. Omohundro was all over the field with six total tackles. Carlos Meza matched that total while Rivera ended the game with five stops of his own.
COC turned the ball over once on a Dickson fumble and committed 13 penalties in the game but was able to overcome those miscues in earning the victory.
The 19 points surrendered by COC were the fewest allowed since the Cougars limited Antelope Valley College to seven points back on Sept. 30.
The loss by Ventura (7-3, 6-1) coupled with Allan Hancock College's 55-45 victory over El Camino College leaves the Pirates in a tie with AHC for the SCFA National Division, Northern League championship.
Canyons (6-4, 5-2), which fell to the Bulldogs in week seven, sits third in the conference standings. Saturday's victory snapped Ventura's six-game win streak and ensured the Cougars end their season with a winning record for the seventh time under head coach Ted Iacenda, and the fifth in the last six seasons. COC finished an even 5-5 in 2022. Canyons did not compete in 2020 due to cancellations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cougars are now 3-3 vs. Ventura across their last six meetings, including a postseason matchup in 2018 that was claimed by the Pirates.
Canyons will now await a potential SCFA Bowl Bid in hopes of extending its year into the postseason.
—Photo by Dylan Stewart/1550 Sports