RIVERSIDE — An Orange Coast College football sympathizer wagged his head from side to side in the first half of the Pirates' 61-17 East Division loss to unbeaten Riverside and echoed a time-honored coaching axiom.
"You can't coach speed," he said.
One can, however, coach speed if one coaches in Riverside, a wellspring for the kind of swiftness that enables many of today's preferred strategic schemes on both sides of the ball.
The visiting Tigers (6-0, 1-0 in the division), the defending East Division champions who are ranked No. 4 in the state and Southern California, used an ample supply of speed to overwhelm the Pirates.
Even OCC's running game, which came in rated No. 1 in the state at more than 307 yards per game —behind the state's leading rusher, freshman Domenic Betts — proved to be anything but a sure bet against the swarming Tigers.
Betts, who came in averaging nearly 182 yards per contest and had gained no fewer than 158 in a game this season, finished with 24 rushing yards on 25 carries against the No. 1 rushing defense in the 37-school Southern California Football Assn. His lone reception produced no yards.
OCC managed 102 rushing yards on 39 attempts, more than double the 41.8-yard average the Tigers had surrendered in their first five games. But 65 of that came on a broken play that Bill Chimphalee turned into a touchdown run early in the second half.
Nine times RCC brought Betts down behind the line and twice it tackled the fastest back in recent OCC history for no gain. Eight times, Betts gained no more than three yards and his longest carry of the night resulted in nine yards.
"They are a better team, defensively, than I thought they were," OCC Coach Mike Taylor said of the Tigers, who have now outscored opponents, 322-94, this season. "We haven't faced a team that can run like that. We couldn't get anything going."
RCC Coach Tom Kraft agreed that speed swayed things his team's way.
"I thought we could distribute the ball with our passing game open, or close it with our run game," Craft said. "We have fullbacks, wingbacks and wide receivers.
"And, defensively, we've got that same variety. We've got a lot of speed on defense. That was probably the difference in the game."
The game was all but decided early in the second quarter when RCC opened a 24-0 lead.
Betts capped a 10-play drive that included three first downs on RCC penalties with a three-yard touchdown run to put the hosts (2-4, 0-1) on the scoreboard late in the first half.
Riverside surrendered 179 yards on 19 penalties.
OCC, which trailed, 31-7, at intermission, scored three plays into the second half when Chimphalee scooped up a bouncing, wayward pitch in the backfield and, running opposite the flow of the play, gashed the Tigers for a 65-yard touchdown.
OCC's only other points came on a 53-yard field goal by Jackson Dionne (two yards short of Lucas Vandeman's school-record achieved last season).
OCC middle linebacker Nick Cody made a diving interception late in the first half and led the Pirates with 10 tackles. OCC outside linebacker Aaron Jones had two tackles for losses, but Riverside amassed 476 yards of total offense, more than double OCC's 210.
RCC running backs Andre Hunt and EJ Schexnayder both reached triple-digits (104 and 109, respectively) and combined for three touchdowns.
RCC quarterback Dalton Livingston threw for 171 yards and three TDs and even the special teams added to the abundance of big plays.