The Orange Coast College football team could not maintain its strong start on Saturday and lost to rival Golden West College, 41-21, in the annual Battle of the Bell game at GWC.
The Pirates (1-5, 0-1) jumped out to a solid 9-0 lead, courtesy of a 31-yard field goal by Kieran Spradlin and a 30-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Adam Carr to freshman tight end Edwin LaCross.
But the Rustlers (3-3, 1-0) responded over the middle quarters and pulled away with 34 consecutive points.
OCC refused to quit and started the fourth quarter with back-to-back touchdowns to get back into the contest.
Freshman running back David Hernandez capped off an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 34-15. The Pirate defense, led by 12 tackles from Kyre Adams, forced the Rustlers to punt and on that play, I'Jon Akahi plowed through the line and blocked the GWC punt.
Akahi then scooped up the loose ball and returned it 38 yards for another OCC score, bringing the Pirates to within 14 at 35-21.
But the Rustlers, winners of the Victory Bell for nine of the past 10 seasons, mounted a 10-play, 90-yard scoring drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by Devon Jackson, ending hopes of a Pirate comeback.
Carr finished the game with 283 yards and a touchdown on 23-of-44 passing. Giancarlo Monge caught three passes for 82 yards, while LaCross 50-yards, Aaron Fletcher 54-yards and Elijah Williams 26-yards each had a team-best five receptions.
The Pirates will return to LeBard Stadium on Saturday to take on Saddleback College, beginning at 6 p.m.