Canyons football comes back against Ventura for Iacenda’s 50th win

College of the Canyons freshman wide receiver Trevon Elliott (9) breaks free from a Ventura receiver on his way to the end zone on what turned out to be an 88-yard touchdown catch. Photo courtesy Jesse Munoz/COC Athletics

College of the Canyons football coach Ted Iacenda got his 50th win on Saturday after the Cougars beat Ventura College but didn’t realize it until Sunday.

He saw that Long Beach City College coach Brett Peabody had achieved his 50th win on Saturday and began to do some math for himself. He came up with a total of 50 wins.

“It’s not like every year I collect them and now I’m at 37 …  and the year ends and you move on the next group and you’re recruiting and you’re building and it is what it is. It’s kind of cool, it means I’m old.”

Win No. 50 didn’t come easily for Iacenda as the Cougars (7-1 overall, 3-0 in SCFA, National Northern League) had to make a comeback in the second half against the Pirates, trailing 28-21 at the break.

As the offense came alive, Canyons was able to make a strong defensive stand in the second half to preserve the win. 

Hart grad and linebacker Charles Ike led the charge on defense with 16 total tackles (10 of the solo variety) and a pass breakup. He was consequently named the SCFA Player of the Week.

“He’s been our rock,” Iacenda said of Ike. “He makes all of our calls on defense, gets us lined up, he’s such an old school middle linebacker. He never complains, he practices hard, lifts hard, does everything you ask.”

In terms of offense, Canyons quarterback Armani Edden threw 18-of-27 for 381 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Edden threw two touchdown passes in the last 10 minutes of the game — one to Tiquan Gilmore and one to Trevon Elliot — to secure the win against Ventura.

“He’s been doing a masterful job moving the ball around and finding his right reads and progressions and he’s flourishing in this offense, there’s no question,” Iacenda said.

Cayden Dunn started the scoring in the first quarter for COC on a 1-yard run with 3:56 left in the frame. Ventura (6-2, 2-1) struck back two minutes later as quarterback Terrell Vaughn connected with Juan Gaytan for a 27-yard touchdown pass.

Edden ran in a 6-yard touchdown to open the second quarter, but Ventura scored twice — once on an interception — to gain a 21-14 lead. COC’s Cyrus Zuell added a touchdown on a 5-yard run, but the Pirates closed out the first half with a score of their own as Vaughn caught a 6-yard pass from Dino Maldonado for the advantage.

Maldonado threw another touchdown to open the third quarter to increase Ventura’s lead to 35-21. Canyons wasn’t ready to roll over yet, scoring two more times before the third quarter came to a close.

Dunn scored on a 3-yard scamper, then Edden threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Romello Cook to make it 35-34 in Ventura’s favor.

“Midway through the third quarter, we stopped trying to lose the game and we started trying to win the game on offense,” Iacenda said. “We still had this feeling, this is still our game. We were in better shape, we were tougher, we were stronger in the end and we were able to overcome those mistakes and put our foot on the gas pedal after we corrected those mistakes.”

Alberto Arroyo drilled a 28-yard field goal, which scored Ventura’s only points of the fourth quarter before Edden closed out the game with his two touchdown passes.

As a result of the win, Canyons moved up to the No. 4 position in the JC Athletic Bureau Coaches’ Poll. Ventura is currently No. 10.

This Saturday, the Cougars return home to host Long Beach City College, a team that Iacenda expects to bring more physicality than any other team they’ve played this season.

Long Beach is also the only other undefeated team in the conference.

“Long Beach is a physical football team on offense and defense, humongous up front and skill players are phenomenal. Probably best D-Line we’ve seen all year long and I know for a fact the best secondary we’ve seen this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, the conference championship game.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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