The Orange Coast College football team silenced critics in an inspired yet ugly come-from-behind 25-21 victory Saturday against LA Southwest College at LeBard Stadium.
For the second time in as many years, the Pirates defeated the Cougars, but for head coach Bubba Gonzalez and company the win meant much more. The victory was the first for the season, and Gonzalez’s first home win of his Pirates career.
Unlike weeks prior, the Pirates scored first by way of freshman running back Nikko Fierro-Tuala’s 2-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
A poorly snapped field goal that led to an interception prevented the Pirates from running up the score.
The Cougars evened the score after stripping the ball and returning it for a touchdown, leaving the score at 7-7 as the two teams walked off the field at the end of the half.
Two early touchdowns in the third quarter, including a kickoff return, saw the Cougars pull ahead 21-7. The Pirates had opportunities to score between the Cougar touchdowns, but another poorly snapped ball and missed field goal cost the Pirates points.
Coast’s special team’s issues changed Gonzalez’s game plan.
“That is why we went for two at the end. Our field goal team struggled all day long with not only bad snaps, but jumping offsides,” Gonzalez said.
However, the Pirates mistakes weren’t enough to hold them back as the team roared on all sides of the ball in the fourth quarter.
The team scored three touchdowns as freshman running back David Hernandez rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, sophomore quarterback Adam Carr passed a 40-yard touchdown to sophomore Giancarlo Monge, and Carr himself rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to take the lead.
Carr accumulated 163 of the team’s 226 passing yards in the fourth quarter alone.
The Pirates held the ball for much of the fourth quarter as sophomore defensive back Noah Kilburg recovered an onside kick and freshman defensive back Jalen Robertson intercepted a pass that gave the Pirates the ball back leading to the winning drive.
Gonzalez attributed the victory to the team as a whole, but credited the defense with giving the team the opportunity to win.
“They knew that they had to step up big tonight, and they came out with a chip on their shoulder, and we knew that we were going to have to lean on them,” Gonzalez said.
The 1-2 Pirates head out on the road to take on El Camino College Saturday at 1 p.m. The team will return home and play Bakersfield College Oct. 5 at 6 p.m.