The Orange Coast College football team battled hard in the trenches but ultimately came up short in a tough 24-20 loss to Ventura College in the season opener at LeBard Stadium on Saturday.
The inaugural game of the 2018 season went back and forth all night as the Coast defense kept Ventura — ranked fifth overall in the state — honest to just 24 points.
Derailed by a blocked extra point, a missed field goal attempt and a 47-yard drive spearheaded by quarterback Pete Mitchell with under five minutes to go, Coast came up just short.
“The loss tonight hurts a little bit,” head coach Bubba Gonzalez said. “Ventura played with a lot of grit, our guys came out, showed up and played together as a unit which I couldn’t be more proud of.”
Coast’s first score came in the second quarter on a nine play, 71-yard drive that was capped off by a one yard rushing touchdown by sophomore quarterback Nathan West.
Freshman wide receiver Dylan Laurent, 20, a business management major, came up with a spectacular grab for 56-yards on a pass from Mitchell resulted in a momentum-changing touchdown for Coast early in the third quarter to tie the game at 14.
“We came out clicking tonight and knew we had to execute against a team like Ventura,” Laurent said. “We got a chip on our shoulder heading in to next week knowing what we have to work on as an offense.”
After giving up 14 points in the first half, OCC’s defense held Ventura scoreless in the third quarter but it wasn’t enough.
With the game still tied at 14 late in the third quarter Coast thought they had caught a break when punter Christopher Bartolic sent the football deep into the Orange Coast zone, and the Ventura receiver appeared to carry the ball into the end zone and out of bounds. After a long deliberation between the referees the play was ruled a touchback and not a safety much to the dismay of the fans in attendance.
The no-call was a major momentum shift in favor of Ventura, who then scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“Our team chemistry this year is amazing. We all know what we got to do going into next week,” said Offensive lineman Avery Robinson.
Orange Coast looks to bounce back in their second game when they play East Los Angeles Community College at 6 p.m. on Sept. 8th at Weingart Stadium.