COC football keen on breaking even

COC’s RB Marlow takes the ball upfield against Ventura College earlier this season. Photo courtesy Jesse Munoz/COC Sports Information

College of the Canyons and Bakersfield College have put up eerily similar stats this season.

The Cougars and Renegades are both averaging exactly 369.7 yards of total offense.

They’ve scored a nearly identical number of points per game — a little over a point apart.

And their defensive numbers aren’t far off, either.

But if COC wants to imitate Bakersfield by finishing the season with at least a .500 winning percentage, the Cougars are going to have to buck a nearly season-long trend.

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COC needs to secure its first two-game winning streak since the first two games of 2016.

“We want to finish the season strong — go 5-5, go .500,” said Cougars running back Tylan McBride. “Maybe get a bowl game.”

McBride helped COC (4-5 overall, 2-2 in National Division, Northern Conference) snag its fourth win, rushing for 104 yards and two scores last week in a 66-39 win over Santa Monica.

His 56-yard touchdown run three minutes into the game opened the scoring and set the tone.

“Both my linemen made their blocks, and I was gone to the races,” McBride said.

Did anyone at all touch him?

“No, nobody touched me,” he said.

McBride has been part of a three-week offensive resurgence, another factor of which has been the insertion of sophomore Matt Moore at quarterback.

Moore has thrown for at least two touchdowns and more than 300 yards in each of his three starts since taking over for CJ Williams partway through a loss to Ventura on Oct. 15, the fourth of four straight losses.

Not to be overlooked in the recent offensive upswing is a maturing offensive line that has kept the less-than-mobile Moore upright.

“If we get the protection, with his arm and our wide receivers, it’s a nice combination,” said COC coach Ted Iacenda. “It’s nice to see us jell and click the last couple weeks on offense.”

One of those wide receiver weapons is freshman Marquise Brown, who has earned scholarship offers from the University of Oregon and the University of Tennessee amongst a host of others.

Brown, Moore said, opens the field for everyone else.

“You can throw any ball and he’ll go get it,” Moore said of Brown, who’s caught 43 balls for 685 yards and 10 touchdowns. “It’s nice to have somebody like that. The whole (other) team keys on him, and then we can spread the ball to other people.”

COC’s defense, though, has sustained a handful of season-ending injuries and has struggled to come up with stops.

The Cougars, who have beaten Bakersfield the last three years, rank 54th in the state in yards per game allowed at 416.8.

The Renegades (6-3, 2-2) have allowed 432 yards a game, but have still managed six wins.

Bakersfield opened National Division, Northern Conference play with a three-point, overtime loss to Moorpark before bouncing back to beat Cerritos and Santa Monica.

The Renegades lost to Ventura last week, 49-21.

The Cougars can’t win the division, but a postseason bowl game is still a possibility.

“We have a tough game (Saturday),” Iacenda said. “… But if we’re 5-5, we (may) have the opportunity.”

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