Canyons started the game with an offsides penalty on the opening kickoff, but the flag ended up paying dividends for the Cougars who forced a fumble on the redo and were able to get a quick three points on the board on a Tanner Brown 26-yard field goal.
The fumble recovery and early score set the tone for the game as COC defeated Ventura 31-7 at College of the Canyons to move to 8-0 on the season and 3-0 in conference.
After the Cougars got on the board early, the Pirates (6-2, 2-1 in conference) got into COC territory on a long kickoff return.
However, much like they’ve been doing all season, Canyons’ defense held its ground as defensive back Antonio Hunt intercepted Ventura quarterback Jay Vanderjagt.
“It doesn’t matter who plays, every single one of them is a threat to pick it off. You throw at your own peril,” Canyons head coach Ted Iacenda said about his secondary. “Defensively we’re tough, we’re solid up front, our back seven is very good and we’re playing disciplined football.”
On the ensuing Cougars drive, offsides was called against the Pirates but Canyons didn’t need the penalty. Quarterback Wyatt Eget found receiver Leroy Deshazor streaking down the left sideline who made a spectacular catch in between two defenders and took it to the house for a 56-yard touchdown.
“My wideouts are great receivers,” Eget said. “They jumped, I knew we had a free play and Leroy running down the sideline. I just put it up for him over the safety and he made a great play.”
Eget finished the game 18-for-33 for 203 yards, a passing touchdown and interception. He also scored on a 1-yard run near the end of the fourth quarter, putting the game out of reach for Ventura.
The final drive in which Eget scored the rushing touchdown featured a unique formation that hadn’t been seen all season.
Linebackers Khalib Johns, KJ Latu and Tariq Speights lined up in a three-back formation, and the defensive players helped drive the offense down the field for 98 yards and the score.
Johns carried the ball eight times for 84 yards and Latu carried it five times for 13 yards on that drive as Speights blocked for the pair.
“We just put it in this week, but I’ve been playing running back my whole life so it just came natural,” Johns said. “Tariq and KJ, they led the way and I led the way for them too. It’s a good thing seeing the defensive players shine.”
“We call it our Full House. We’ve been talking about it amongst the staff,” defensive coordinator Dan Corbet said. “Those guys are tough smart football players and we knew if we put them in the game they were going to impose their will.”
“All three of those guys are extremely versatile,” Iacenda added. “Not only are they ferocious on defense but they’re all tremendous offensive players.”
Latu added a touchdown in the third quarter, powering through the Ventura defense on a 1-yard run.
The other Cougars’ score came in the second quarter when Miles Anderson rumbled into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown.
Hunt finished the game with two interceptions and defensive back Raeshawn Roland also had two picks.
The Cougars forced six turnovers in all.
“The sky is the limit for us. If we’re doing our best and doing our jobs I don’t think anybody can score on us,” Johns said. “We play together, we love each other and just go out there and ball.”
“I can’t say it enough, we’ve got really talented and smart football players,” Corbet said. “More importantly than that, they are selfless. They trust what we’re doing on defense and make big plays.”
While the team will celebrate the big win tonight, they know they still have business to take care of in the coming weeks.
“We have to keep the pedal to the medal and grind through it,” Eget said. “Our work doesn’t stop here. This team can reach very big heights and I’m excited to keep winning.”
“The way we’re playing right now, I don’t think anybody can beat us,” defensive end Tre Easter said.
Up next for the Cougars is a road game against Long Beach City College on Nov. 3. The Vikings are 4-4 after beating Moorpark on Saturday.