Orange Coast College dropped their fifth straight “Battle of the Bell” rivalry football game in a 24-7 loss to Golden West on Saturday night.
The Rustlers completely shutdown the Pirates’ offensive rhythm at Lebard Stadium in Costa Mesa, coming away with three sacks and two interceptions over the course of the game.
OCC did not score until about 12 minutes into the fourth quarter, when backup freshman quarterback J.D. Rafkin threw a 33-yard TD to freshman wide receiver Boogie Lilley-Sneed.
Freshman QB Brandon Cannella, who started the game for the Pirates, was sidelined with what appeared to be a head injury after taking a sack in the third quarter. Rafkin stepped up in relief, completing 11 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown in only a quarter-and-a-half of play.
The Pirates offensive line immediately stuck out as an area of concern, with not only three sacks allowed, but an abysmal 1.9 average yards per carry from running backs who were getting met with heavy resistance at the line of scrimmage on nearly every rushing attempt.
A struggling run game mixed with a few drops from Pirate receivers meant six punts for the OCC offense, made possible by the team’s 16% (3 of 19) third-down conversion rate.
Offensive woes set aside, OCC could not stop a well-oiled Rustlers offense, especially at the goal line where QB Jake Retzalff had three one-yard TD rushes for GWC.
This year’s home opener was the first regular season game Pirates football has played since 2019, and for some players, even longer.
“I hadn’t competed in a game that counted since 2018, when I tore my ACL,” OCC freshman RB Colin Gregg said. “It was really good to be back out there. I had some jitters but worked through them.”
OCC head coach Bubba Gonzalez’s team had to watch the Rustlers ring the victory bell for the fifth straight season— the loss coming at home only adding more insult to injury.
The Pirates will look to turn it around against Grossmont College when the Griffins come to town for a 6 p.m. matchup on Saturday, Sept. 11.
“I think we need to build a little bit of fire in our spirit,” Gregg said. “We can get dead at times, and I wish we could have a bit more energy. We have a lot of work to do but we’re looking forward to next week and coming out with some spirit.”