By Ray Hamill — Levi Cox-Cooley enjoyed a career day running the ball on Saturday as College of the Redwoods bounced back from a tough loss at Foothill a week ago to beat Los Medanos 42-24 at the Redwood Bowl.
The former Del Norte Warrior ran for 281 yards and three touchdowns and he took full advantage of a much-improved performance by the Corsairs offensive line.
The highlight play of the day was his 97-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter to put the Corsairs up 14-0.
However, it wasn’t all good news for the Corsairs, who turned the ball over three times in the first half alone — including twice inside the Los Medanos 10 — and allowed the Mustangs stay in a game that should have been out of reach for them before half-time.
It’s been a problem all season for the Corsairs offense.
“The turnovers are just irritating to say the least,” CR head coach Jason White said. “We should really have been up 35-0 in the first half.
“We have to do a better job protecting the football. These are mistakes we can’t afford to make against better teams.”
The Corsairs fumbled the ball at the Los Medanos goal line and Teonnie Johnson would return it 100 yards for the Mustangs’ only touchdown of the first half.
Cox-Cooley’s 97-yard TD run was one of three second-quarter scores for the home team, with Emmanuel Igbonogwam adding a four-yard TD run and quarterback Max Hough combining with receiver Anthony Aguirre on a 37-yard TD pass.
Aguirre made a nice diving catch in the end zone on the play.
The Corsairs took a 21-6 lead into halftime and they would add a fourth touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, with Cox-Cooley running in from five yards out.
The visitors, however, refused to go down without a fight and responded with back-to-back TDs — their first on offense all game — to pull within 10 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Check out some first-half highlights below …
But CR would put the game away with a pair of TDs in the final five minutes of the game, the first on a three-yard Igbongwam run, his second of the game, and the second on a 28-yard Cox-Cooley run that capped a brilliant individual day for the sophomore running back.
The improved line play was just one of many bright spots in the win, as the Corsairs improved to 1-1 in the American-Pacific 7 Conference and 4-2 overall.
“There were a lot of positives,” White said. “We were able to run the ball very effectively and our defense pitched a shutout in the first half.”
Drew Jensen also had a big blocked punt on special teams, while the defense has been playing outstanding all season long with several standouts every week, most notably lineman Tyse Whigham who continues to set the tone on that side of the ball.
“Tyse Whigham, week in week out he’s a dog,” White said.
Former Eureka Logger Chase Steubing also had a huge game and finished with a team-high eight tackles, while the cornerback tandem of Mason Priddy and Ferndale’s Lane Branstetter each had an interception and appear to be getting better every week.
Hough completed 10 of 19 passes for 187 yards, one TD and one interception, with Aguirre pulling down five receptions for a team-best 111 yards.
Tight end Jedon Janneh also had a big 44-yard reception to set up Igbonogwam’s first TD run.
Igbonogwam carried the ball 16 times for 52 yards.
Los Medanos quarterback Brenden Bush, whom White described as the best QB the Corsiars have faced this year, completed 26 of 39 passes for 273 yards, three TDs and two interceptions.
Los Medanos dropped to 1-1 in conference and 3-3 on the season.
The Corsairs have a bye next week before hosting Yuba in two weeks.