Defense leads way as Cougars blank Dragons

Coronado’s defense limited Del Sol to 156 yards of offense and intercepted three passes Thursday night on the way to a 17-0 road victory over the Dragons.

It was Coronado’s second shutout of the season. The Cougars (3-4, 1-4 Southeast League) have allowed seven total points in the past two games after allowing 80 points in the previous two.

“They absolutely stepped up,” Coronado coach Lance Cooper said of his defense. “We had some kids who were ineligible, had to fill people in and the kids just stepped up.”

Coronado was especially effective at bottling up Del Sol star running back Chris Marshall, who rushed for 317 yards last week against Foothill. The Cougars limited Marshall to 79 yards on 23 carries, including a long rush of 11 yards.

Coronado, meanwhile, moved the ball on the ground to total 206 rushing yards. Chris Johnson led the way with 98 yards on 18 carries.

“When we hit the hole and hit it fast, a lot of good things happen,” Cooper said. “We have good running backs, but our offensive line had a really good night.”

The Cougars took the lead on their second possession of the game, driving 65 yards on 10 plays capped by a 2-yard keeper by quarterback Kevin Lucero with 4:16 left in the first quarter.

Coronado caught a break in the second quarter when an ill-advised fake punt by Del Sol (3-4, 1-3) on fourth-and-20 gave the Cougars the ball at the Del Sol 10 with 1:23 to go in the half.

Coronado managed just three yards on the drive, but Chris Laliberte knocked in a 24-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 10-0 lead at the break.

The Coronado defense accounted for the last score when linebacker Cory Sobczyk stepped in front of a Nathan Kirschbaum pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown with 3:44 to play to seal the victory.

Damon Goldhammer and Jason Warren each added an interception for the Cougars, who overcame four turnovers.

“We’re trying to build some tradition,” said Cooper, who is in his second year as head coach. “We have to be patient. They’ve been through a lot of transition, so the coaches have to be as consistent as the players.”