By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
After using a week of practice to refocus, College of the Canyons responded in a major way by jumping all other visiting Grossmont College 41-13 at Cougar Stadium on Saturday night.
All Cougars home games are live streamed to fans through a broadcast partnership with SoCalCollegeSports.com. To watch the week two live stream click here. Home games will also be replayed on SCVTV Channel 20 and SCVTV.com.
No. 14 Canyons (1-1) was in need of a boost after suffering a week one home loss to Saddleback College. However, that outcome seemed a distance memory for the Cougars who carried a renewed intensity that was absent a week ago.
It took just 52 seconds for Canyons to get on the board, and it would have been even quicker if not for a holding penalty that negated a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown by Demajay Williams on the first play of the game.
With the ball eventually placed on the COC 45-yard line after the penalty, it took just three more plays for the Cougars to get into the end zone on an Armani Edden touchdown toss to Trevon Elliott. The PAT by Tanner Brown was good and the Cougars were off and running at 7-0.
Elliott added a 40-yard nab later in the game to finish second on the team with 68 receiving yards.
On the ensuring drive COC sophomore safety Jaquine Vukobradovich intercepted a pass thrown by Grossmont quarterback Shariff Harris-Legree just after the Griffins had moved into Cougar territory. Vukobradovich finished the game tied for the team high with four tackles.
Having found quick success on the previous possession Canyons instead looked to grind it out the second time around. Sophomore running back Cayden Dunn sparked the drive with three straight runs, the last of which went for 23 yards and put COC on the Griffin side of the field.
Dunn led the Cougars rushing attack with seven carries for 63 yards. A total of eight different ball carriers saw action with COC clearly making a point to establish its ground game. The Cougars ran for 171 yards in the contest, which included 13 rushing first downs. By comparison, the Griffins netted just 50 yards on the ground.
After an eight-yard scamper from Edden to prolong the drive, the sophomore quarterback eventually connected with wide receiver Alonzell Henderson on a 29-yard touchdown strike and Canyons was quickly ahead 14-0. Henderson finished with seven catches for 101 yards.
Edden saw the bulk of snaps under center a week ago despite sharing time with freshman Colton Doyle. But with Doyle out vs. the Griffins, and Edden off to a hot start head coach Ted Iacenda opted for a lone signal caller for much of the game.
Edden was more than efficient, going 20-of-28 for 271 yards in the game along with the two first quarter touchdowns.
A 27-yard field goal by Brown with 1:05 to go in the quarter gave Canyons a 17-0 advantage along with lots of confidence.
Grossmont finally got on the board on a short swing pass that Griffins running back Jarious Burnette was able to got loose on for a 63-yard touchdown, putting the game at 17-7 after the PAT.
Things appeared to swing in Grossmont's favor when a deep ball by Edden was picked off at the Griffin three-yard line and returned all the way back to the 34.
That turn of events was short-lived, however, as Canyons cornerback Chayce Edwards-Morgan promptly responded with an interception of his own on the very next snap. The turnover flipped the field and set COC up on its own 30-yard line.
Edwards-Morgan had a strong game in the Canyons secondary with tight coverage throughout the night, and a second half interception in the end zone in which he appeared to stay in bounds, but was ultimately called off by the official.
After seeing the two teams exchange punts on the following two possessions, Edden and company went back to work on their own 17-yard line with 4:37 to go in the half.
Edden completed his next four passes, to four different receivers, quickly moving the ball to Griffin 35-yard line. But after the drive stalled out Iacenda opted to bring his field goal unit on the field. Brown's 37-yard boot put the game at 20-7 heading into the half.
Things stayed quiet until Edden got into the end zone on a six-yard rushing touchdown that was set up after a long 40-yard pass to Elliott. That score and the ensuing PAT made it a 27-7 Canyons advantage.
After a sustained drive from the Griffins, Grossmont head coach Michael Jordan also looked to the kicking game, converting on a 38-yard attempt by kicker Jack Browning to inch a little closer at 27-10.
Browning tacked on another three on Grossmont's next possession to give the Griffins a glimmer of hope at 27-13.
But on the ensuing kickoff Tiquan Gilmore returned the ball 81 yards to the Grossmont 19-yard line. From there the Cougars looked to sophomore running back Kartillus McFadden who capped the drive with a seven-yard scoring run and extinguished any hopes of a Griffin comeback.
Grossmont was just 2-of-12 on third down and accumulated 267 yards of total offense. The Cougars defense played a large role in those paltry numbers with four sacks and eight tackles for loss. Madison Wheeler, Taylor Lewis, Julian Salazar and Tyler Richardson all recorded QB takedowns for Canyons.
Canyons was much more offensively efficient in week two, generating 491 yards of total offense with a better balanced attack, that was boosted by explosive special teams play.
The Cougars recorded 243 return yards even after having a Williams' touchdown return called back. Brown finished the game a perfect 5-for-5 on PATS with field goals of 27 and 37 yards.
As a final exclamation point, sophomore Michael Wilson played the final drive for Canyons and was able to connect with Elijah Ebe on a 49-yard touchdown pass to put the game at a 41-13 final score. The long touchdown toss was Wilson's only attempt of the game.
Canyons entered the game the No. 14 ranked team in the state according to the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) Preseason Poll. The Cougars were also ranked No. 15 in the JC Athletic Bureau Head Coaches Poll. The Griffins are currently unranked.
The Cougars have now defeated Grossmont in three straight meetings dating back to the 2017 campaign. The Griffins still hold a slight edge in the all-time series, with the Cougars having now gone 6-7 all-time vs. Grossmont. Grossmont's last victory vs. COC came in 2016 at Cougar Stadium.
Canyons will next travel to take on Santa Barbara City College (1-1) at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Cougars fans are also reminded to make their plans to attend the college's 50th Anniversary Homecoming celebration prior to the week four game vs. Cerritos College on Saturday, Sept. 28. Fans and community members are invited to enjoy pre-game family activities, food and concessions, music, photo opportunities, T-shirt and rally towel giveaways, and a special on-field half-time alumni photo. Festivities begin at 4 p.m., with kickoff scheduled at 6 p.m. Admission and parking are both free for this event
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 by Rylee Myers