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Cougars Ride Strong Second Half to 34-7 Victory Over Moorpark

College of the Canyons defensive back Demajay Williams (19) recorded a 72-yard interception return for a touchdown to help the Cougars defeat Moorpark College 34-7 on Thursday night at Cougar Stadium. — Jeff Dahlia/Canyons football
College of the Canyons defensive back Demajay Williams (19) recorded a 72-yard interception return for a touchdown to help the Cougars defeat Moorpark College 34-7 on Thursday night at Cougar Stadium. — Jeff Dahlia/Canyons football

By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director 

College of the Canyons scored 31 second-half points highlighted by two long touchdown passes from quarterback Armani Edden and a 72-yard interception return by Demajay Williams that proved to be the backbreaker in COC's 34-7 victory over Moorpark College on Thursday night at Cougar Stadium.

The win represented the first of the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) National Division, Northern League schedule and extended COC's win streak to five games.

Canyons (5-1, 1-0) played a quick, but ultimately uneventful, first half which saw both programs struggle to generate much in the way of offense.

The lone score came in the form of a 44-yard field goal from Tanner Brown in the closing seconds before halftime to give COC a slight 3-0 advantage.

The field goal was set up in part by an interception from COC sophomore Ryan Haith that gave Canyons the ball at the Moorpark 39-yard line with just under three minutes in the half.

The Cougars received the second-half kickoff and immediately looked to be a revitalized. Edden connected with Emari Smith for seven yards on the first play of the drive. Two snaps later it was Edden to Smith for 11 more. Then, on second down from the Raiders 49-yard line Edden found a streaking Trevon Elliott on what proved to be a 49-yard touchdown pass. Brown's PAT put the game at 10-0.

Moorpark (1-5, 0-1) went three-and-out on its next drive. Backed up deep in their own territory, the Raiders could only muster 23 yards on the punt, allowing Canyons to start the drive at the Moorpark 39-yard line.

Canyons failed to take full advantage of the short field, however, with the drive stalling out at the Moorpark 13-yard line. This time, Brown booted a 20-yard field goal that made it a 13-0 lead for COC.

With the offense starting to find its rhythm, the Cougars defense then took control. On Moorpark's first play of the drive defensive end Jack Schultz tackled Raider ball carrier Isaiah Johnson for a four-yard loss. Chayce Edwards-Morgan followed up with a key pass break-up and on third down the Cougars defensive front came up with another five-yard loss. This time it was Kendrick Hills and Bradley Brown credited with the stop.

That sequence forced yet another poor Moorpark punt that gave COC the ball at the Raider's 32-yard line. Two plays later Edden connected with Alonzell Henderson for a 30-yard touchdown. Canyons led 20-0 after the PAT from Brown. 

The Raiders momentarily got back in the game with four-yard touchdown run from Johnson that capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive and made it a 20-7 ballgame.

Still looking to make some noise, the Raiders were able to get the ball close to midfield with roughly eight minutes to go in the game. But the attempted halfback pass by Raider Tyree Morrison came under duress, allowing Williams to make the interception and take it back 72 yards for another COC score.

The PAT from Brown was good and COC began to celebrate at 27-7.

The interception was the defensive unit's seventh of the year, and first by Williams. It was also the Cougars' first defensive touchdown of the season.

Cyrus Zuell added a 12-yard touchdown run moments later after Canyons recovered a short kickoff that Moorpark failed to recover. Brown booted the PAT to make it a 34-7 final score.

Zuell finished the game with 37 yards on 11 carries. Edden was 15-of-126 for 197 yards in the contest with two touchdowns and one interception. Henderson caught six balls for 108 yards to lead all receivers.

Sophomore linebacker Charles Ike checked in with 10 tackles, including two for loss, and freshman Julian Salazar had seven takedowns and two pass break-ups. Taylor Lewis recorded a sack for the Cougars.

COC entered the game tied for the No. 4 spot in the most recent California Community College Sports Information Association poll. Canyons was also No. 7 in the statewide head coaches poll, as compiled by the J-C Athletic Bureau.

Winners off five straight, Canyons will now play in just its second true road game of this season when the Cougars head to East Los Angeles College on Saturday, Oct. 26. That game is scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m. 

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 Jeff Dahlia/Canyons football