College of the Canyons running back Tylan McBride looked to be in a glass tunnel as he cut through a hole in the line and hurtled upfield.
Santa Monica defenders saw but couldn’t touch him as he beelined 56 yards to the end zone for the night’s first touchdown and a sign of things to come.
The Cougars decimated one of the state’s worst defenses in a 66-39 win at Cougar Stadium on Saturday night, bringing COC’s home schedule to a feel-good conclusion.
“It was absolutely imperative for us to step on the gas and feed off that energy,” said Canyons coach Ted Iacenda.
McBride pressed the pedal to the floor early and then kept contributing. He ran for 104 yards on 15 carries in the game.
He scored his second touchdown, this one a 3-yarder, midway through the second quarter to give COC a 31-13 lead.
The Cougars led 45-19 at half.
“The confidence level was high for us this week,” said McBride.
COC (4-5 overall, 2-2 in the National Division, Northern Conference) has now gone 2-1 since sophomore Matt Moore took over as the starting quarterback.
Those three games, unlike the previous four, were not against the state’s elite, but Moore’s cannon arm and football IQ have ignited a once stagnate offense.
He threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night in three quarters of play. He’s surpassed 300 yards passing in each of his starts.
“We have speed on the outside and the inside,” Moore said of his receiving corps, “and we had one-on-one matchups all night.”
The result: lots of open Cougars.
Moore’s own wheels, though, were also a factor.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 255-pounder scored on two quarterback sneaks in the first half, the first pulling COC back ahead, 12-6, after the Corsairs had tied the score, 6-6.
Those scores weren’t pre-PAT, either. COC failed on its first four point-after kicks, the first a botched snap and the other three simply misses.
So, despite four touchdowns, the Cougars led only 24-13 after one quarter, and six of Santa Monica’s points had come on Carnell Lewis’ 64-yard punt return TD.
“Ugh, I don’t even want to talk about it,” Iacenda said. “… That’s a real sticking point for me because we work very hard on special teams.”
However, the special teams snafus didn’t ultimately matter. Santa Monica’s porous defense made sure of it.
The Cougars racked up 398 yards of total offense before the break and reached 590 yards by game’s end.
Santa Monica (1-8, 0-4) — in its first season after moving from the American Division to the more-competitive National Division — entered Saturday allowing 486.4 yards per game, the second-worst mark in the state.
Still, Corsair quarterback Weston Massett tried to spark a comeback midway through the third quarter, lofting a pinpoint pass into the end zone for a 14-yard score to Conor McMahan.
After a 2-point conversion, Santa Monica trailed 45-27 at the 8:37 mark.
Then COC’s special teams made a play.
Linebacker Brandon Shook blocked a Corsair punt and hopped on it for a touchdown after the deflection rolled into the end zone.
There would be no collapse.
RB Marlow caught six passes for 117 yards and a score for COC, which will wrap up its regular season on Nov. 12 at Bakersfield, still hoping to earn a spot in a bowl game.
Regardless, Cougar fans went home feeling good Saturday night. And as a turbulent season winds down, that’s no small thing.