COSTA MESA — A 52-50 nonconference loss to visiting College of the Desert sent Orange Coast College football historians to the record book Saturday.
But with just four regular-season games left, all against Southern Conference opponents, the Pirates' players and coaches will be better served heading back to the drawing board in an attempt to salvage their season.
Upon immediate reflection, OCC might spend some time trying to figure out how it lost a game in which it scored 50 points, committed no turnovers, had fewer than half as many penalties as the opponent and averaged 3.4 plays on its seven touchdown drives.
Further, the Pirates produced 430 yards of offense, all but 17 through the air, and scored 36 points after intermission, 22 of those in the final 11:03.
The last of those fourth-quarter points came on a two-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Robert Penny to give the hosts (3-3), ranked No. 11 in Southern California and No. 21 in the state, a chance to tie the score. This appeared anything but likely when OCC, which never led, was down, 52-28, nearly four minutes into the final period.
Freshman reserve quarterback Cameron Biedgoly's pass floated just beyond the fingertips of a diving — and open — Buzzy Yokoyama in the end zone on OCC's final two-point try with 3:11 left.
Desert (2-3), which amassed 362 rushing yards and 637 yards of total offense, earned the final two of its 29 first downs after the ensuing kickoff to run out the clock and claim victory in the highest-scoring game in OCC history.
Now in its 65th season, OCC had never before surpassed a combined 100 points in a game. The previous high came in a 50-46 loss to Long Beach in 2008.
The 50 points are the most ever in a loss for the Pirates, breaking the mark set in the aforementioned Long Beach track meet. It was only the 12th time OCC has scored at least 50 in a game, only the third time since 1991, a span of 216 games.
In addition, OCC is now 0-3 all-time against COD, which becomes the only opponent that the Pirates have played at least three times without procuring a victory.
OCC may take solace in the play of Biedgoly, who replaced starter Jon Newsom (six for 12 for 110 yards and one touchdown, but with enough indecision in the pocket to contribute to four sacks) late in the first half.
Biedgoly, whose only pass the first four games was an incompletion before coming off the bench to connect on seven of 11 for 65 yards and a touchdown on Sept. 29 at Grossmont, immediately produced dividends against the Roadrunners.
Biedgoly capped his first series with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Duncan on his third snap to pull OCC within 28-14 with 1:11 left before halftime.
Biedgoly, who finished 11 for 21 for 303 yards, with three touchdown passes, no interceptions and only one sack, also had scoring tosses of 74 yards (to Bryan Keller) and 56 yards (Yokoyama) to help OCC's comeback bid.
With an OCC running game that had netted Penny at least 100 yards rushing the four previous games producing just 17 yards and two first downs, OCC took to the air Saturday. Duncan had six catches for 163 yards, while Yokoyama, a former running back who has shifted to receiver, hauled in five receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
Duncan caught a pair of two-point passes after the Pirates' first two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
OCC, which allowed COD to score on seven of its first nine possessions, suddenly became more stingy after the visitors took a 45-21 advantage with 5:28 left in the third quarter. The Roadrunners then had back-to-back three-and-out offensive series. And after Desert went 61 yards on seven plays with its initial fourth-quarter possession, OCC safety Kellon Truxton blocked a punt to set the Pirates up at the COD 31-yard line.
Penny capped the ensuing possession with a four-yard touchdown run and, after the OCC defense forced another three-and-out that was followed by a 17-yard punt, Penny finished a four-play, 45-yard march with a two-yard touchdown run.
But OCC never touched the ball again.
The Pirates began inauspiciously when Clay Harris bobbled a squib on the opening kickoff out of bounds at his own three-yard line.
COD's Nephi Garcia returned OCC's first punt 35 yards for a touchdown to cash in the miscue.
Harris, a sophomore cornerback, gained some redemption by intercepting in the end zone to produce the Pirates' only red-zone stop early in the second quarter.
A crucial defensive holding penalty that nullified a would-be interception that OCC freshman cornerback Lionel LeDuff returned 38 yards to the Desert 34-yard line, extended Desert's next possession, which became an eight-play touchdown drive.
OCC also lost potential points by eschewing a 24-yard field-goal try, then throwing a fourth-down incompletion in the first quarter.
COD benefited from some good fortune after taking over on downs, when OCC linebacker Austin Bennett had an interception slip from his hands and into the grasp of Desert tight end Brandon Vandenburg for a 90-yard scoring pass.
OCC sophomore safety Hunter Vanderpool made 17 tackles, while sophomore outside linebacker Nick Cody added 13 and now has a team-leading 60.
The game was delayed nearly 30 minutes early in the fourth quarter, when Desert freshman Bee Wesley lay motionless on the turf near the Roadrunner sideline following an OCC punt. An OCC trainer reported Wesley was conscious and had some movement before leaving on a backboard and being transported by ambulance to a hospital.
OCC plays host to Santa Ana on Saturday at 7 p.m.
College of the Desert 52, Orange Coast 50
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Desert 14 – 14 – 17 – 7 — 52
OCC 7 – 7 – 14 – 22 — 50
COD – Garcia 35 punt return (Wood kick), 13:35.
COD – Vandenberg 90 pass from Dartis (Wood kick), 2:20.
OCC – Yokoyama 63 pass from Newsom (Dionne kick), 1:20.
COD – Johnson 1 run (Wood kick), 9:10.
COD – Garcia 17 run (Wood kick), 1:59
OCC – Duncan 52 pass from Biedgoly (Dionne kick), 1:11.
COD – Richardson 28 pass from Cecena (Wood kick), 10:41.
COD – Wood 33 FG, 6:23.
OCC – Keller 74 pass from Biedgoly (Dionne kick), 5:40.
COD – Richardson 75 pass from Cecena (Wood kick), 5:28.
OCC – Penny 1 run (Dionne kick), 0:33.
COD – Johnson 12 run (Wood kick), 11:16.
OCC – Yokoyama 56 pass from Biedgoly (Duncan pass from Biedgoly), 11:03.
OCC – Penny 4 run (Duncan pass from Biedgoly), 5:57.
OCC – Penny 2 run (pass failed), 3:11.
COD – Johnson, 30-194, 1 TD; Garcia, 12-86, 1 TD.
OCC – Penny, 16-47, 3 TDs.
COD – Dartis, 5-10-1, 143, 1 TD; Cecena, 4-7-0, 132, 2 TDs.
OCC – Biedgoly, 11-21-0, 303, 3 TDs; Newsom 6-12-0, 110, 1 TD.
COD – Richardson, 4-137, 2 TDs; Vandenburg, 3-123, 1 TD.
OCC – Duncan, 6-163, 1 TD; Yokoyama, 5-147, 2 TDs.