OCC's Plan B nets win

COSTA MESA — When Long Beach City College sophomore Ryan Craighead's threw an interception with 7:44 remaining and his team trailing, 38-31, in a nonconference football game at Orange Coast on Saturday, he almost certainly wished he could have had the pass back.

The red-hot quarterback, however, never took another snap, as he could only seethe on the sideline while the Pirates ran out the clock to collect their first win of the season.

The OCC offense, which has found more success in the smashmouth double wing this season than the spread, used its increasingly bruising ground game to possess the ball for 12:42 of the final 15:55 against the Vikings.

OCC (1-1) amassed nearly a 14-minute edge in time of possession, running 87 plays, 21 more than the Vikings (0-2).

OCC's ability to eat yardage, as well as the clock, helped stave off the visitors, who rallied from a 24-7 deficit to pull even at 31, thanks largely to the aerial acumen of Craighead (15 for 21 passing after halftime for 246 of his 348 passing yards).

OCC, which came in leading the 37-school Southern California Football Assn. in rushing after amassing 375 yards in a season-opening loss at Saddleback, collected 315 yards on 62 rushing attempts Saturday. The Pirates used 16 plays, all runs, on its final possession to earn six first downs and deny Craighead and the Vikings any final chance.

OCC's grind-it-out, double-wing scheme was also critical in two first-half touchdown drives, after freshman quarterback Alex Cappellini triggered the spread attack to a 10-0 lead through just more than one quarter.

Cappellini, who completed 10 of 19 passes for 96 yards, with one interception, had just one completion after halftime. He played sparingly in the final two quarters, as Dalton Gervais largely handled the spread and Jeremiah Rideaux primarily directed the double wing down the stretch.

"Alex got us out of the blocks and we used our conventional [spread] offense to go down and score," OCC Coach Mike Taylor said. "But it's nice having a Plan B. I've seen spread teams that can be hot and score a lot of points, then sometimes they bog down and they have nowhere else to go."

OCC used eight ballcarriers, mostly shuffling between the tackles, to continually go to the well — or perhaps more correctly, the hole — created by a strong, experienced offensive line.

Tackles Kyle Donaldson and John Roche, guards Stuart Strother and Kyle Finney, center Alec Davis and tight ends Ross Pitsenberger and Ryan Hoffman (both of whom saw double duty at defensive end) paved the way for a corps of rushers, led by freshman Domenic Betts.

Betts, who exploded for 216 rushing yards in his collegiate debut last week, added 158 more on 24 attempts Saturday. His 16-yard sprint around right end with 7:02 left in the third quarter gave OCC a 31-17 advantage. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound transfer from College of the Desert, via Banning High, also broke off runs of 30, 17 and 11 yards. Additionally, he led the Pirates with 52 receiving yards on five catches.

"I love it," Betts said of the diverse offensive package from which he operates at tailback and wingback. "We've got the best O-line, the best O-line coach [Former NFL standout Doug Smith], the best offensive coordinator [Jack Wigmore, in his first season at OCC], everything. If we don't hurt ourselves, nobody can stop us."

Long Beach turned OCC's lone turnover, an interception by Roosevelt Payne at the Pirates' 45-yard line, into a three-play touchdown drive that sparked the Vikings' 21-point third quarter.

But OCC also cashed in on Long Beach miscues. A shanked punt that carried just 18 yards led to a seven-play, 38-yard touchdown drive that gave OCC its 24-7 advantage late in the first half.

And OCC cornerback Dex Homer gathered in a bounding flat pass that was ruled a fumbled lateral and returned it 31 yards to set up a two-play, 25-yard touchdown drive that produced the aforementioned 31-17 edge.

Outside linebacker Colten Christensen had eight tackles and Romo added seven to help the OCC defense limit Long Beach to 28 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

OCC had eight third-down conversions and was two for two on fourth-down conversion attempts.

OCC's Jackson Dionne made all five conversion kicks and booted a 32-yard field goal, while holder Mike Frank made half of those boots possible with nifty holds on three suspect snaps.


Twitter: @barryfaulkner5

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World