RIVERSIDE — In its first game in a new division, the Orange Coast College football team was hoping a change would do them good.
But it was sudden change that proved to be their undoing in a 45-20 East Conference-opening loss at Riverside Saturday night.
The host Tigers (5-1, 1-0 in conference), ranked No. 12 in Southern California and No. 21 in the state, turned three interceptions into quick touchdowns.
Riverside returned one interception 25 yards for a touchdown with 1:30 left in the first half to complete a 14-point burst in a 24-second span.
The Tigers capped the scoring with a 39-yard Andre Hunt touchdown run one play after OCC freshman quarterback A.J. Josue threw his third interception.
Riverside also scored six plays after picking off a pass four plays after halftime to claim a 38-6 lead that put the game away.
OCC (1-5, 0-1), which was 1-11 in conference the last two seasons, is expected to garner more success in its new alignment.
But the Tigers, whose quarterback, freshman Dalton Livingston entered the game No. 3 in the 37-school Southern California Football Assn. in passing efficiency, showed they were no soft touch.
Livingston completed 16 of 32 attempts for 215 yards and one touchdown.
And the hosts also found production on the ground, as Hunt amassed 129 yards and three touchdowns, inclucing an 80-yard burst on the first snap after a first-quarter OCC punt.
Hunt's long run put his team up, 10-0, and he capped the Tigers' subsequent possession with a one-yard scoring run to make it 17-0.
OCC, coming off a bye week that followed its first win of the season, drove 65 yards on 15 plays to cut into the deficit, as freshman tailback Robert Penny scored on a five-yard run to make it 17-6 with 3:03 left in the first half.
But Riverside needed just four plays to answer with a touchdown of its own.
Then, Tigers' cornerback Bruce Jones broke in front of an OCC receiver near the sideline and cruised untouched into the end zone on the second play after the ensuing kickoff to make it a commanding 31-6 halftime lead.
Penny pounded away for 96 yards on 25 attempts, though he limped off the field early in the fourth quarter appearing to be favoring his right leg.
Josue, who made his second start of the season, his first since the third game, finished with 192 passing yards, including a 55-yard touchdown toss to Keali'i Doll that pulled the Pirates within 38-20 with 10:15 left in the game.
And though the nimble quarterback was sacked only three times, an improvement for an OCC line that had surrendered 22 sacks in its first five games, his scrambling ability did not buy him enough time to throw very deep downfield.
Other than his scoring strike to Doll, Josue had only two completions of more than 15 yards, none longer than 22. He completed 16 of 35 attempts.
Doll, who had not had a reception in October, caught three passes for 79 yards.
Livingston used nine nine different receivers, eight in the first half, before exiting after what appeared to be a contentious exchange on the sideline with Coach Tom Craft, also the Tigers' offensive coordinator.
OCC struggled to find consistent offensive production, adding six punts to its three turnovers.
OCC defenders twice had both hands on would-be interceptions, only to drop both.
Tackle Ross Pitsenberger and ends Nick O'Neill and Kyle Hubert had sacks for the Pirates, for whom Isaiah Reupena blocked a field-goal attempt in the fourth period.
OCC sophomore Lucas Vandman misfired on field-goal tries of 44 and 35 yards, though the latter produced a roughing the kicker penalty that the Pirates eventually cashed in for their firrst touchdown.
Riverside committed 14 penalties for 139 yards.
The Pirates return home to meet Southwestern of Chula Vista on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Riverside 45, Orange Coast 20
SCORE BY QUARTERS
OCC 0 – 6 – 7 – 7 — 20
Riverside 10 – 21 – 7 – 7 — 45
RCC – Barrera 28 FG, 7:43.
RCC – Hunt 80 run (Barrera kick), 4:39.
RCC – Hunt 1 run (Barrera kick), 9:50.
OCC – Penny 5 run (kick blocked), 3:03.
RCC – Robinson 1 run (Barrera kick), 1:54.
RCC – Jones 25 interception return (Barrera kick), 1:30.
RCC – Will 5 pass from Livingston (Barrera kick), 11:33.
OCC – Penny 13 run (Vandeman kick), 9:29.
OCC – Doll 55 pass from Josue (Vandeman kick), 10:15.
RCC – Hunt 39 run (Alvarez kick), 5:15.
OCC – Penny, 25-96, 2 TDs.
RCC – Hunt 7-129, 3 TDs.
OCC – Josue 16-25-3, 197, 1 TD.
RCC – Livingston, 16-32-0, 215, 1 TD.
OCC – Doll, 3-79, 1 TD.
RCC – Will 5-61, 1 TD.