Dawson threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Michael Mandic early in the second quarter and an 83-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Strange in the third quarter as Canyons (8-1, 5-0) rallied from an early 7-0 deficit to take a 20-10 lead. Then with 6:27 left, Harris sealed the win for the Cougars, interception a pass from Cerritos' Cody Clements and returning it 13 yards for a score.
It was a closely-fought, physical battle, and Canyons got the big plays and the turnovers needed to get the victory. Harris' interception was one of three picks for the Cougars, and Antonio Guy also recovered a fumble in the first half. Canyons not only had the two touchdown passes, but did not commit a turnover.
In the first quarter, it looked like Cerritos (6-3, 4-1) might be the team that was going to get the big plays. Guy recovered a Clements fumble near midfield with 6:08 left in the quarter, and the Cougars drove to the Falcon 19, but ended up having to settle for a 39-yard field goal attempt by Eric Kreitz. And the Falcons' Orlando Thompson blocked the kick, keeping the game scoreless. Then Falcons then took a 7-0 lead on its one big play, a 61-yard touchdown run by Dominique Small with 30 seconds left in the quarter.
Canyons nearly pulled even early in the second quarter when Dawson, who entered the game after Small's touchdown run, connected with Mandic on the 16-yard touchdown pass. That play came three plays after a 42-yard run by Bowen that got the ball to the Falcon 15. But a bad snap doomed the extra point try, and Cerritos maintained a 7-6 lead.
Late in the first half, Canyons got a big play when Austin Murillo made a leaping interception and returned the ball 38 yards to the Cerritos 30 with 2:32 left before halftime. That led to a 2-yard scoring run by Bowen with 23 seconds left in the first half. A defensive holding penalty against Cerritos helped keep the drive alive moments before Bowen's go-ahead touchdown run.
Cerritos put together a 12-play, 75-yard drive on its first drive of the second half to cut into Canyons' lead. But the Falcons had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Brandon Romero after the drive stalled at the Cougar 3 yard-line. Still, the Falcons appeared to be in excellent position to take the lead when Canyons faced a 3rd and 9 from its own 17 moments later.
That's when Dawson found Strange near midfiled and threw him a pass that became an 83-yard touchdown play and gave the Cougars a 10-point lead. Strange got wide open and caught the ball near the right sideline, sidestepped a pair of Falcons closing in on him, cut all the way across the field and made it into the left corner of the end zone to make it 20-10 with 4:58 left in the third quarter.
Cerritos nearly cut the margin back to a single score early in the fourth quarter, driving to the Canyons 17 yard-line. But a sack by Guy - his second of three on the night - pushed the Falcons back, and Cerritos faced a 4th and 12 from the 19. Romero came on to try a 36-yard field goal, but his kick was wide left, keeping it a 10-point game.
The Cerritos defense forced a Cougar punt, and the Falcons had the ball at their own 19, still trailing by 10 points after gaining a first down on a 13-yard run by Elijah Penny. But on the next play, Harris stepped in front of a Clements pass and made the interception at the Falcon 13. And he just kept running, returning the ball for a touchdown that made it 27-10 and clinched the victory for the Cougars.
Cerritos still had 6:27 in which to try one last rally. But on the Falcons' next possession, the Cougars took the ball back again when Joey Cicoria intercepted a Clements pas with 5:42 left. It was the Cougar defense's 4th turnover of the game and ended any remaining suspense as to the game's outcome.
For Canyons, Dawson completed 5 of 11 passes for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he also rushed 15 times for 66 yards in about three quarters of playing time. Bowen carried 15 times for 104 yards and a score. On defense, Guy had 3 sacks and a fumble recovery, and Harris had a sack and the pick-six that clinched the win.
For Cerritos, Clements completed 14 of 25 passes for 148 yards. The 245-pound Penny had a strong game running the ball, carrying 25 times for 126 yards. Small added the 61-yard touchdown run.
With the win, Canyons clinches the National-North title and is assured of a berth in the National Division playoffs. Cerritos falls to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference, and will face Moorpark next week as it attempts to secure a (non-playoff) bowl berth.
College of the Canyons Cougars 27, Cerritos Falcons 10
Saturday, November 9, 2013 - 6 pm @ Cougar Stadium, Santa Clarita
National Division - Northern Conference
CERR - Small 61 yd run (Romero kick) 0:30 (0-7)
CAN - Mandic 16 yd pass from Dawson (kick failed - bad snap) 13:10 (6-7)
CAN - Bowen 2 yd run (Kreitz kick) 0:23 (13-7)
CERR - FG Romero 20 yds 6:00 (13-10)
CAN - Strange 83 yd pass from Dawson (Kreitz kick) 4:58 (20-10)
CAN - Harris 13 yd interception return (Kreitz kick) 6:27 (27-10)
First Downs: Canyons 10 (4 rush, 5 pass, 1 penalty), Cerritos 19 (9 rush, 7 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Canyons 35-169, Cerritos 46-229
Passing Yds: Canyons 175, Cerritos 148
Comp-Att-Int: Canyons 9-17-0, Cerritos 14-25-3
Return Yds: Canyons 113, Cerritos 0
Sacks-Yds: Canyons 4-18, Cerritos 1-3
Fumbles-Lost: Canyons 2-0, Cerritos 2-1
Penalties-Yds: Canyons 10-83, Cerritos 7-68
Time of Possession: Canyons 25:27, Cerritos 34:33
Rushing: CAN 5-Bowen 16-104, 10-Dawson 15-66, 11-Tucker 1-5, 12-Dashnaw 2-(-1), team 1-(-5); CERR 22-Penny 25-126, 23-Small 5-76, 33-Jasper 5-18, 10-Clements 11-9
Passing: CAN 10-Dawson 5-11-0-136, 2 TDs; 12-Dawshnaw 4-6-0-39; CERR 10-Clements 14-25-3-148
Receiving: CAN 9-Gipson 3-9, 11-Tucker 2-43, 13-Strange 1-83, 7-Vear 1-17, 85-Mandic 1-16, 2-Washington 1-7; CERR 22-Penny 4-14, 3-Carrigan 2-48, 17-Shepherd 2-35, 6-Gumbs 2-29, 2-Caiquo 2-6, 33-Jasper 1-9, 80-Johnson 1-7
Interceptions-Ret Yds: CAN 32-Murillo 1-38, 56-Harris 1-13, 43-Cicoria 1-0; CERR none
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: CAN 53-Guy 1-0; CERR none
Sacks-Yds: CAN 53-Guy 3-12, 56-Harris 1-6; CERR 26-Taumoepeau 1-3
Punters: CAN 7-Vear 5.38.4 avg; CERR 38-Umeh 2-40.5 avg, 10-Clements 2-39.5 avg
Kick Returns: CAN 11-Tucker 2-44, 31-Rice 1-20; CERR none
Punt Returns: CAN none; CERR 21-Williams 1-0
Missed FG: CAN 89-Kreitz 39 yds (blocked); CERR 36-Romero 36 yds (wide left)
Notes: Showdown! Canyons entered 7-1, 4-0 in National-North, ranked #5-National while Cerritos entered 6-2, 4-0 and ranked #6. Dashnaw started at QB for Canyons; Dawson entered late in the 1st quarter and played the rest of the way except 1 play. 6D-Thompson blocked the FGA for Cerritos. Murillo returned his interception to the Cerritos 30, setting up COC's field goal. This win clinches the conference title and a playoff berth for Canyons. These teams have met 6 times in the last 14 seasons and each team has won 3 times.