It was fitting that with the clock expired in the Southern Conference football game between Orange Coast College and visiting Saddleback the ball was in the air.
The final pass was intercepted by OCC linebacker Paco Potter to seal the Pirates' 55-48 upset of the Gauchos, who came in ranked No. 11 in Southern California and No. 21 in the state.
The Saddleback offense also came in ranked No. 1 in passing in the 37-team Southern California Football Assn., but had difficulty keeping up with an OCC offense led by sophomore Jon Newsom.
Newsom, who twice has lost his starting job during his two seasons at OCC, started for the first time since early in the season. He made the decision look good.
Newsom threw for 376 yards and a school-single-game-record-tying five touchdowns. He completed 21 of 37 with one interception and also rushed 21 times for 85 yards and one touchdown.
Saddleback sophomore quarterback Tim Belman threw six touchdown passes. He completed 30 of 46 for 476 yards and two interceptions.
The Pirates (3-5, 1-3 in conference) took a 41-27 lead with 6:20 left in the third quarter, but the Gauchos (3-4, 1-2) answered and pulled even at 41-41 with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
OCC came right back, however, driving 54 yards on eight plays, with Newsom connecting with D.J. McFadden for a 39-yard scoring toss. Griff Amies added the PAT and it was 48-41 with 11:57 left in the game.
After Saddleback turned the ball over on downs on its ensuing possession, Newsom once again proved clutch, connecting with sophomore tight end Stefano Pecci for a 19-yard touchdown pass that upped the lead to 55-41.
The OCC defense, which received interceptions from Potter and Paul Swanson and had a fumble recovery by DeAndre Dickerson, stopped Saddleback on fourth down once again on the ensuing possession.
This time, the Pirates moved in position for a 32-yard Amies field goal with 3:54 left. But when a personal foul penalty gave OCC a first-down on the Saddleback eight-yard line, OCC elected to take the points off the board.
Amies missed a 25-yard field-goal try with 2:36 left, giving the Gauchos life.
Saddleback capitalized, driving 80 yards for a touchdown that left them within seven points with 1:31 remaining.
OCC drained all but eight seconds off the clock when it lined up in punt formation from the Gauchos'46-yard line.
Punter Demauria Stewart dropped the punt snap, however, and Saddleback fell on the loose ball at the OCC 32-yard line with two seconds remaining.
Belmen, who was knocked out for three plays earlier in the quarter when his helmet popped off while being sacked, came back on the field with a chance to improve on his school career records for yardage, completions and attempts.
But his high-arching fade pattern was tipped up by a swarm of OCC defenders near the goal line and Potter came down with the ball at about the eight-yard line. He returned it 30 yards with time expired and the Pirates celebrated one of their best wins in years.
Angel Holmes had four catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns, while McFadden finished with three receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns for the winners. Lauderdale had 13 receptions for 255 yards and four touchdowns for the Gauchos.
Orange Coast 55, Saddlebck 48
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Sad 7 – 14 – 20 – 7 – 48
OCC 17 –14 – 10 – 14 – 55
Sad – Ela 25 pass from Belman (Boermeester kick), 13:28.
OCC – Amies 42 FG, 9:55.
OCC – Holmes 12 pass from Newsom (Amies kick), 2:19.
OCC – McFadden 73 pass from Williams (Amies kick), 0:57.
Sad – Lauderdale 30 pass from Belman (Boermeester kick), 14:48.
OCC – Williams 39 pass from Newsom (Amies kick), 12:50.
Sad – Lauderdale 50 pass from Belman (Boermeester kick), 11:41.
OCC – Newsom 1 run (Amies kick), 0:33.
OCC – Amies 43 FG, 13:24.
Sad – Lauderdale 9 pass from Belman (kick failed), 9:03.
OCC – Holmes 23 pass from Newsom (Amies kick, 6:20.
Sad – French 14 pass from Belman (Boermeester kick), 2:55.
Sad – Stone 3 run (Boermeester kick), 1:23.
OCC – McFadden 39 pass from Newsom (Amies kick), 11:57.
OCC – Pecci 19 pass from Newsom (Amies kick), 8:59.
Sad – Lauderdale 27 pass from Belman (Boermeester kick), 1:31.
Sad – Stone, 16-97, 1 TD.
OCC – Williams, 22-96; Newsom, 20-72, 1 TD.
Sad – Belman, 30-44-2, 474, 6 TDs.
OCC – Newsom, 21-34-1, 380, 5 TDs.
Sad – Lauderdale, 10-249, 4 TDs.
OCC – Holmes, 4-107, 2 TDs; McFadden, 3-116, 2 TDs; Hambrick, 4-86.