Listed at 5 feet 11 and 240 pounds, Golden West College football freshman running back Devon Jackson is a tough player to bring down.
Jackson broke handfuls of tackles Saturday afternoon against rival Orange Coast, rumbling for 120 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries.
“He’s fun to watch,” Golden West coach Nick Mitchell said. “We’ve got a couple of real natural finishers. Devon is probably one of the best finishers that I’ve been around. Some guys just have that natural ability to always finish with their head going forward, always know how to get that extra two yards at the end, even while they’re going down.”
The Pirates have found it hard to bring down the Rustlers in general in recent years.
Golden West stormed back to beat Orange Coast 41-21 at home on Saturday. The Rustlers won both teams’ National Southern League opener and claimed the Battle of the Bell rivalry game for the fourth straight year, and ninth time in the last 10 years.
Golden West (3-3) fell behind 9-0 in the first quarter, before scoring 34 straight points to seize control of the game from Orange Coast (1-5).
“We got a little emotional early on, talking a little too much and playing less,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes things get emotional out here ... and they did a good job and came out ready to play. We felt that if we could just settle in and play our game, we’d be able to come back and take control. The running game was really the biggest difference.”
Sophomore Tahje Morant had 15 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown for the winners, while freshman Benn Vallier, a former Fountain Valley High standout, had eight carries for 30 yards.
Freshman quarterback Zach Lewis threw for 234 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for Golden West. Mitchell said that sophomore Corona del Mar High product Nathaniel Espinoza has typically been Golden West’s starter at quarterback this season, but the Rustlers also want to give opportunities to Lewis and sophomore quarterback Richard Wagner from Santa Margarita.
Lewis had three of his four touchdown passes before halftime, but the one that came after halftime was the longest play of the day. He found sophomore receiver Jeremiah Wright on a 54-yard bomb over the middle, stretching Golden West’s lead to 27-9 with 8:46 remaining in the third quarter.
“I think Zach did his thing,” Wright said. “He definitely did his thing. The things he did and the plays he executed were big. I think Zach is a great quarterback, as well as Nathaniel, Richard, all of the other quarterbacks. I think it starts from being at practice, because we keep practice so serious. We’re focused on getting work in, not just out here throwing the football.”
Orange Coast tried to rally in the fourth quarter, as David Hernandez scored on a two-yard touchdown run. The Pirates then blocked the Rustlers’ ensuing punt, and I’Jon Akahi recovered it in the end zone to trim the visitors’ deficit to 34-21 with 11:38 left in the fourth. But Orange Coast couldn’t get closer.
Former Laguna Beach High standout Adam Armstrong (three catches for 46 yards) was another reliable target for Lewis and Golden West, while ex-Edison standout David Atencio caught a two-yard touchdown pass.
Golden West leads the overall series against Orange Coast 30-21-1.
Golden West continues league play at Riverside next Saturday, while Orange Coast hosts Saddleback. Both games are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
National Southern League
Golden West 41, Orange Coast 21
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Orange Coast 9 – 0 – 0 – 12 — 21
Golden West 7 – 13 –14 – 7 — 41
OCC – Spradlin 31 FG, 6:22.
OCC – LaCross 30 pass from Carr (run failed), 3:03.
GWC – Hobbs 13 pass from Lewis (Arredondo kick), 1:09.
GWC – Malo 1 pass from Lewis (kick failed), 8:21.
GWC – Atencio 2 pass from Lewis (Arredondo kick), 3:01.
GWC – Wright 54 pass from Lewis (Arredondo kick), 8:46.
GWC – Morant 1 run (Arredondo kick), 0:41.
OCC – Hernandez 2 run (pass failed), 13:11.
OCC – Akahi recovered blocked punt in end zone (pass failed), 11:38.
GWC – Jackson 6 run (Arredondo kick), 5:42.
OCC – Hernandez, 6-16, 1 TD.
GWC – Jackson, 10-120, 1 TD.
OCC – Carr, 23-44-1, 283, 1 TD.
GWC – Lewis, 20-26-0, 234, 4 TDs.
OCC – Monge, 3-82.
GWC – Wright, 3-82, 1 TD.
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