Huntington Beach, Calif. - The opening five minutes of the game could not have been scripted any better as Golden West recovered the opening kickoff that was muffed by the visiting College of the Canyons Cougars at the 30-yard line. Three plays later and a 22-yard scamper by quarterback Nathaniel Espinoza, the Rustlers held an early 7-0 lead a minute into the game.
The defense then forced a quick three and out to let the offense come right back and march down the field to the Canyons 15-yard line where Jose Arredondo booted a 32-yard field goal to give a 10-0 lead. The Cougars answered right back on the next possession as they drove 60 yards on 10 plays to cut into the lead 10-7. The following drive for the Rustlers looked promising when Espinoza scrambled and landed awkwardly while trying to slide to give himself up and he had to be helped off the field. Backup QB Zach Lewis came in and completed a 15-yard pass to get the Rustlers to the Canyons 16-yard line. That setup another field goal attempt for Arrendondo which ended up hitting the right upright and stalled the drive for no points.
After trading a couple of series, it was the Cougars who struck next and they took their first lead of the game following a 14-yard touchdown pass 14-10. In a very quick response from the Rustler offense, Lewis used a 44-yard strike to wide out KC Carr to setup a 1-yard QB sneak to put Golden West back out front 17-14 with a halftime lead.
The second half saw a much different offense for the Canyons, as they were able to open holes for their running game to be effective. They cashed in on a 32-yard touchdown run in their first series of the second half and then a 1-yard QB keeper on their second drive to open a 28-17 lead.
Then it appeared that the Rustler offense was just sputtering along as they threw back to back interceptions leading to another score for Canyons to build a 35-17 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. It wasn't until four minutes left in the game that Lewis was able to connect with David Atencio for a 7-yard touchdown for the final score 35-24.
Golden West heads into the bye week at 2-3 and will host the 53rd Battle for the Bell against in district rival Orange Coast on October 19th at 1pm.