COSTA MESA — A week after losing three leads and falling in triple overtime in its season opener at Moorpark, the Orange Coast College football team tried coming from behind in its first home contest on Saturday against Pasadena City College.
The result, while equally dramatic, was much more successful this time for OCC, which rallied behind sophomore backup quarterback Jon Newsom to claim a 27-23 victory over the Lancers.
Newsom threw three touchdown passes to help the Pirates overcome a 17-0 deficit and take a 21-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
But Pasadena (0-2) showed some fight of its own to retake a 23-21 advantage on its ensuing possession.
OCC faced that same deficit with fourth down and one from its own 34-yard line with 9:21 left in the game. After a timeout to consider his options, OCC Coach Mike Taylor elected to go for it. But a fumble on a quarterback keeper gave Pasadena possession at the Pirates' 30.
"The fourth-down play obviously was a play I thought we could make," Taylor said of the ill-fated gamble. "When we didn't get it, it put a lot of pressure on our defense. But fortunately, the defense came through."
Two plays later, defensive tackle Lear Schrader intercepted and rumbled to the Pasadena 29-yard line, before he was caught from behind and fumbled. Then OCC cornerback De Andre Dickerson recovered and advanced the ball to the Lancers' four-yard line.
Two plays later, OCC freshman Robert Murtha, an Estancia High product, scored from two yards out on his first collegiate carry to give the Pirates the lead for good.
After the two teams traded punts, PCC took over at its own 10 with 3:31 left. The Lancers moved the ball to the OCC 17 with 28 seconds remaining,. Two incomplete passes, a delay-of-game penalty and a short completion brought up fourth down from the OCC 18. The final snap occurred with three seconds left and PCC quarterback Darrin Cazarin elected to scramble. He was chased out of bounds at the OCC nine-yard line as time expired, setting off a wild celebration that signaled the end of a seven-game losing streak for the Pirates.
"When the ball hit my hands, I felt guys grabbing my ankles," said the 6-foot-1, 270-pound Schrader. "So I started high-stepping. And when I started running, I felt like the fastest runner on the team. Then, when I saw two defensive guys coming at me, I realized I wasn't the fastest guy on the team."
Newsom finished 17 for 26 for 216 yards with one interception.
Freshman receiver D.J. McFadden had six catches for 124 yards, including scoring hookups of 36 and 28 yards.
The OCC rushing game produced just three yards in the first half and wasn't much better in the second half and netted only 13 yards on 30 attempts for the game.
Newsom replaced starting sophomore quarterback Cameron Biedgoly, who completed seven of 15 for just 54 yards with one interception.
Newsom's first pass was dropped, but he completed his next two, the latter a 36-yard touchdown strike to D.J. McFadden with a minute left before halftime to allow the Pirates to pull within 10.
Newsom hit McFadden for a 28-yard TD with 2:48 left in the third quarter, then connected with tight end Angel Holmes from two yards out to put OCC on top, 21-17, with 13:43 left.
Dickerson added an interception for OCC, which did not allow Pasadena to get a first down in the third quarter.
It was the sixth straight loss for PCC (0-2), which was led by Cazarin, who threw for 280 yards, completing 26 of 47.
Orange Coast 27, Pasadena 23