No. 3 Canyons Has Season End 20-10 at No. 2 Golden West
Story and photo by Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
HUNTINGTON BEACH — No. 3 seed College of the Canyons had its state championship hopes dashed at the hands of No. 2 Golden West College, as the Cougar offense couldn't get into gear in a 20-10 postseason loss.
Canyons (8-3, 3-2) committed eight turnovers in the game but still had a chance to win, after taking a 10-10 tie game into the fourth quarter vs. the Rustlers (11-0, 5-0).
However, the Cougars came up empty on their final six possessions.
After a Rustler's field goal moved the game to 13-10 Golden West was able to pounce on a COC fumble by quarterback Colton Doyle with under nine minutes to go in the game. On the next play Golden West quarterback Jake Retzlaff found receiver Tanner Branson for a 39-yard score to move ahead 20-10 after the PAT.
Doyle was quick to get back in action, connecting with Calvin Littles on a 15-yard gain to start the ensuing drive. But Doyle was picked on the very next play.
The Cougar defense held its ground to force a Golden West punt and give Canyons another shot.
COC sophomore Tooni Ikahihifo, who started the game before giving way to Doyle, returned to start the next drive, but the result was the same. After a quick completion to Littles, Ikahihifo was intercepted near midfield by GW defensive back Codie Sauvao.
Sauvao then pulled the same trick on the Cougars' final possession to pick off Ikahihifo for a second time and essentially end the game with under a minute remaining on the clock. Sauvao finished the day with three interceptions and a pass break up.
Littles was the Cougars' leading receiving with nine catches for 87 yards.
COC freshman Zyon Slade scored the only touchdown for Canyons on a 32-yard reception with 9:18 to go in the third quarter. The scoring strike came from Doyle who finished the game 8-of-16 for 99 yards and three interceptions. The completion to Slade was the long of the day.
Ikahihifo was 7-of-13 for 60 yards in the game. Sophomore Cyrus Zuell led the Canyons ground attack with 66 yards on eight carries, including a long run of 25 yards.
Ty Morrison converted his lone field goal attempt from 21-yards late in the third quarter to tie the game at 10-10.
Golden West opened up the scoring with a one-yard run by Gianni Hurd early on in the second quarter. The Rustlers then tacked on another three points with a 25-yard field goal that capped a seven-minute drive and moved the score to 10-0 heading into halftime.
COC sophomore linebacker Jonathan Thomas was named the player of the game for Canyons after posting nine tackles, including five solo, to go with a pass break up.
As a unit, the Cougars limited GW to 278 yards of total offense and just 67 rushing yards. The Rustlers' two touchdown scoring drives came immediately after COC turnovers.
Canyons has now qualified for the state playoffs in three straight seasons (2018, 2019, 2021) under head coach Ted Iacenda. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. COC also advanced to the postseason in 2013, Iacenda's first year at the helm.
No. 2 Golden West will now advance to host Riverside City College in the 2021 SCFA Southern California Championship game on Dec. 4. No. 2 College of San Mateo will face No. 1 City College of San Francisco on Dec. 4 to determine the northern representative.
The winners of those contests will advance to the state championship game on Saturday, Dec. 11.
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.