Pirates give a scare

EL CAJON — The Orange Coast College football team had lost its first three games, much of the faith of its fan base, and nearly three dozen players from its preseason roster heading into Saturday's road game against highly regarded Grossmont.

But the Pirates showed against the Griffins, ranked No. 9 in Southern California and No. 16 in the state, that they still have plenty of pride, as well as precious little interest in giving up on the rest of their season.

OCC led early, moved the ball with relative ease, battled defensively, led, 28-27, with 8:57 left, and remained in the game until the final minute before falling, 42-35.

"When you have a start like that, people start jumping off the boat and stuff," said OCC freshman quarterback Zach Emde, whose one-yard touchdown run with 1:21 left finalized the scoring. "I'm really proud of the guys that hung in there. No one has gotten down at all. Everyone knows what we could do and we're planning on showing it the rest of the season."

What the Pirates (0-4) showed Saturday was a productive ground game that produced 244 yards and 17 rushing first downs. In three games coming in, OCC had produced a combined 184 rushing yards.

Emde completed 14 of 23 for 133 yards, mostly with short shots underneath coverage that also helped move the chains.

Sophomore kicker Lucas Vandeman boomed a school-record 55-yard field goal with one second left in the first half and also nailed field goals of 32 and 38 yards.

The defense, which had produced three sacks the first three games, collected four sacks, recovered one fumble and had a leaping interception by freshman corner Evan Law that led to their go-ahead touchdown midway through the final period.

Freshman tailback Bill Chimphalee, who came in with seven yards on four carries this season, pounded behind an impressive offensive line for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 26 attempts against the Griffins (3-1), who came in ranked No. 3 in the state in team defense.

OCC freshman Robert Penny added 99 rushing yards and one touchdown on 14 attempts, as OCC's 24 first downs nearly matched its combined total in its first three contests (28).

"We stepped it up during practice," Chimphalee said. "We made a statement before Monday's practice and everyone had to step it up and work hard. We've got to do this every single week. We're tired of just losing."

Sophomore defensive end Bryce Brantley, who was openly angry after last week's 46-10 loss to Los Angeles Harbor, was in on three sacks Saturday.

"The whole week, we were just going at it with the offense during practice," Brantley said. "We were going full speed and trying to make each other better. It obviously paid off and we finally started playing like a team."

Emde, whose only glaring mistake — an interception that was returned 45 yards for a touchdown with 1:48 left to put Grossmont up, 42-28, credited the offensive line for producing one more touchdown against Grossmont than OCC had in its first three contests combined.

"Our guys up front blew those guys out," Emde said of tackles Robert Wright and Kyle Donaldson, guards Mike Meyer, Stuart Strother and Travis Whitlock, center Alec Davis and tight end Jeff Waldron. "They completely dominated today."

Defensively, linebackers Travis McNaughton, Eric Wiersma and Earnie Sagiao helped limit the Griffins to 63 yards rushing.

And though Grossmont quarterback Ryan Woods finished 21 of 35 for 368 yards and three touchdowns, cornerbacks Law and DeAndre Dickerson, as well as safeties Bryan Pali and Wesley Harris, were consistently in the right position in coverage.

Four Grossmont touchdowns covered between 37 and 45 yards, but the OCC defense remained determined.

Facing fourth-and-five with 54 seconds left, Grossmont sent its punt team on the field at the OCC 36-yard line. But before the snap, OCC was whistled for an encroachment penalty that gave the Griffins a first down and allowed them to run out the clock.

"Our kids turned it up a little bit in practice and we blocked some people today," OCC Coach Mike Taylor said. "We need to get better, stick together and play hard."

Added Brantley: "If we keep playing like this, we'll finish the season undefeated."

Grossmont 42, Orange Coast 35


OCC 3 – 9 – 6 – 17 — 35

Grossmont 0 – 13 – 7 – 22 — 42

First quarter

OCC – Vandeman 32 FG, 8:46.

Second quarter

G – Brown 37 run (Derby kick), 6:24.

OCC – Chimphalee 4 run (kick failed), 2:30.

G – Brooks 19 pass from Woods (kick failed), 1:19.

OCC – Vandeman 55 FG, 0:01.

Third quarter

G – Woods 1 run (Derby kick), 12:47.

OCC – Chimphalee 2 run (pass failed), 5:05.

Fourth quarter

G – White 38 pass froim Woods (Derby kick), 11:54.

OCC – Vandeman 38 FG, 8:57.

OCC – Penny 19 run (Vandeman kick), 7:56.

G – Ingraham 42 pass from Woods (Woods run), 6:21.

G – Smith 45 interception return (Derby kick), 1:48.

OCC – Emde 1 run (Vandeman kick), 1:21.

Individual rushing

OCC – Chimphalee, 26-130, 2 TDs; Penny, 14-99, 1 TD.

G – Alix, 12-37.

Individual passing

OCC – Emde, 14-23-1, 133.

G – Woods, 21-35-1, 368, 3 TDs.

Individual receiving

OCC – Estrada, 5- 60.

G – Ingrahm, 3-121, 1 TD.

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