Orange Coast College football lost a tough game to the Santa Monica College Corsairs 29-22 on Friday night.
After two consecutive weeks of postponements, fans were eager to come back to Lebard Stadium for OCC’s second game of the season. It was only fitting that the game would come down to the very last drive.
Perfectly clear skies were favorable conditions for the Corsairs’ opening sequence, as quarterback Sam Vaulton passed for 53 yards on the opening drive, paving the way for running back Hassan Biggus to punch in a five-yard rushing touchdown.
The Pirates’ defense had a lot of trouble getting the Corsairs’ skill players to the ground, and several missed tackles became costly gains for the OCC defensive unit. Poor tackling in the open field, mixed with Santa Monica stretching out the defense with a repeated sail concept meant an early 13-0 deficit for the Pirates.
To make matters worse, the OCC kicking team shot a snap over the head of their kicker, forcing the ball through the back of their own end zone for a safety, making it 15-0.
With the game slipping away, the Pirates orchestrated a strong drive highlighted by 60 rushing yards by RB J.P. Segura-Queijeiro. Knocking on Santa Monica’s door, poor ball handling at the snap caused OCC to lose possession at the opposing team’s seven-yard line.
A huge run by OCC RB J.P Segura-Queijeiro gave the Pirates prime real estate to score, but poor ball handling leads to a brutal turnover on the Santa Monica 6 yard-line pic.twitter.com/gEThF0iQtb— Chris Bibona (@chrisbibona) September 25, 2021
The OCC defense picked up the slack, forcing an ever-so-crucial three-and-out on the very next drive. Invigorated by the defense’s performance, the offensive unit strung together a four-play scoring drive to get on the board with only 25 seconds left to play in the half. OCC QB J.D. Rafkin rushed for the one-yard TD, but OCC missed the PAT, so the score remained 15-6.
The second half started with a couple of punts before OCC had their strongest drive of the day: 11 plays for 84 yards with no penalties. Segura capped off the drive with electric athleticism, taking the handoff right, shedding a tackle, spinning another defender into the abyss, only to dive in for the four-yard TD run. Segura’s elusiveness would make the game as close as it would ever be, bringing it to within two — still 15-13 in favor of the Corsairs.
Segura muscled out a breakout game, rushing 109 yards on 12 attempts including a TD.
@coastfball Freshman RB @JPSEGURAQ (12-109-1) talks about his big day on the ground, the team’s mindset when trying to make a comeback, and clarifies what the team needs to improve on down the stretch.@CoastReport pic.twitter.com/ZNDerjxKoq— Chris Bibona (@chrisbibona) September 25, 2021
Santa Monica responded with a touchdown of its own, only for a Pirates’ counter-punch in the form of a 43-yard field goal. The very next drive, the Corsairs scored the last points of their night on a one-yard TD rush from RB Josiah Neos.
Down two scores with only four minutes to play, OCC was in dire straits. A 17-play TD drive brought the Pirates within one score, but only 57 seconds remained on the scoreboard.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, there was just not enough time to close the seven point gap. OCC burned the last of its timeouts stopping the Corsairs on a three-and-out, and time expired after four pass attempts on the following offensive drive.
Rafikin improved from his first start against Golden West College, throwing for a 60% completion rate, 218 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s game.
The Pirates (0-2) dropped their second home game in a row, and Santa Monica improved to .500 (2-2).
OCC will travel to Moorpark next Saturday at 7 p.m. before returning home for a make-up game against Grossmont on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.