Vaqueros rally for an upset over College of the Canyons

Mike Stevens

The City College football team upset the fifth-ranked team in the state late in the fourth quarter 17-14, beating College of the Canyons for the first time since 1981, and giving the Vaqueros their first win of the season in a dramatic fashion.

With eight minutes to play, freshman quarterback John Uribe orchestrated a drive that landed the Vaqueros on the Cougars’ one-yard line, capped off by a Uribe rushing touchdown, putting the Vaqs ahead 17-14.

In the last minute of the fourth quarter, the Cougars moved the ball into field-goal range, but with 22 seconds left Matt Racowschi sacked the Canyons quarterback. The Cougars tried to line up as fast as they could, but with out any time outs they were unable to get the snap off in time, giving the Vaqs their first win at home.

“I think this is a turning point for us,” head coach Craig Moropoulos said. “It keeps everybody believing that when you’re maybe less talented, if you believe in yourself and you keep believing in family, you can get it done.”

The Vaqs were set back in the first four minutes of the game when the Uribe tried a QB sneak and fumbled. The Cougars ended up running the ball in for a touchdown with 6:02 left to play in the quarter to jump out to a 7-0 lead.

“Even when we were behind by seven in the first quarter, we knew we had a chance at winning the game,” Moropoulos said.

Within the first two minutes of the second quarter, the Cougars turned the ball over to the Vaqs.

“It was the defense that kept us in the game,” Moropoulos said. “If we’re able to have that kind of defense for the rest of the season, it should carry us the rest of the way.”

With 8:25 left in the second quarter, the Vaqueros finally got on the board with a successful field goal which brought the score to 3-7. Later in the second quarter, the Vaqs intercepted a pass, but were unable to capitalize on the chance to score. The Cougars got the ball back and marched down the field. With 1:50 left in the quarter, the Cougars ended up scoring another touchdown, increasing their lead to 14-3.

With 12.3 seconds left, City College had their second interception of the quarter. Then, with 2.3 left, they attempted their second field goal of the game but were unsuccessful, as the horn blew ending the first half. Uribe found himself passing the ball a lot during the first half while the Cougars were running the ball most of the time.

As the second half started, the Cougars dropped the ball on the kickoff return and the Vaqueros brought them back -2 yards to start the half.

“It was our great defense that stopped them from scoring anymore than they had in the first half,” said Uribe.

For the rest of the quarter the two teams battled it out, going back and forth without making any head waves against each other. The Cougars looked like they had a touchdown again, but they had their fifth holding penalty of the game and missed the field goal attempt at the end of the third quarter.

The Vaqueros’ offense didn’t really get started until the fourth quarter, when sophomore running back Tristan Carter had a 19-yard run that would set up a 1-yard touchdown run for Robyn Lawson. With 11:15 left in the fourth, the Vaqs had finally scored a touchdown making the score 10-14.

After a high snap got away from the Cougars punter, the special teams got the ball on the 12-yard line with 9:25 left in the game. On the fourth down, Uribe made a pass that would set up the Vaqs on the one-yard line. The quarterback faked a pitch and headed for the corner of the end zone, where his diving effort gave the Vaqs their first lead of the game, 17-14.

Then the ball was kicked to the Cougars, and they brought it up to the 42-yard line. With 4:42 left in the game, the Cougars threw their third and final interception to the Vaqueros. As the Cougars got the ball for the last time, they attempted to pass the ball down field making it all the way to the 25-yard line.

As the final minute ticked down, it looked like the Cougars were going to score again and make it 11 straight wins over the Vaqueros. With 15 seconds left, they attempted to tie the game with a field goal, but couldn’t get the snap off in time. The Vaqueros went on to win their first home game of the season, bringing their record to 1-1 so far.

This was the first time that the Vaqueros have won against the College of the Canyons in all 28 years playing them. The Cougars had won all of the previous 10 meetings against the Vaqs, with the last time playing them back in 2005. The Cougars were champions last year of the American Pacific Conference with a record of 12-1. Now with their first loss of the season, they have the same record as the Vaqueros.

City College will try to keep the momentum going when they face off against the undefeated Ventura College Pirates Sept. 19, 6 p.m. at La Playa Stadium.

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