SANTA ANA -- It was a simple philosophy for Bakersfield College in its football season opener Saturday night:

Let the defense do it.

The Renegades' offense struggled in the second half, but BCs defense limited Santa Ana to three field goals and the Renegades posted a 24-9 win at Eddie West Field.

The Renegades had only four second-half first downs and were out-gained 351-277.

"I was proud of the way our guys responded," BC coach Jeff Chudy said.

"If you read the Orange County Register, they feel this is one of the better teams they've had down here in a long time.

"Their front-4 guys are a formidable group of guys. They will create some havoc."

The defense stepped up immediately. On Santa Ana's first drive, the Dons reached the BC 5-yard line for first-and-goal. After a 3-yard gain, the Dons were stuffed on three straight runs from inside the 2 before BC took over on downs.

"That was a great goal-line stand," Chudy said. "We never should have put ourselves down there, but we did. The guys showed some resiliency and kept them out of the end zone."

BC, which struggled on its first two possessions, made it 7-0 when Darrik Martin hit Brock Martin on a 62-yard touchdown pass play.

Brock Martin wasn't even the primary receiver on the play. But Darrik Martin looked to his right, then looked the other way and saw Brock Martin open.

"The linemen gave me enough time," Darrik Martin said. "It happened he came open and came into my vision at the right time."

"I thought Brock's play was huge," Chudy said. "A great confidence builder. He made guys miss. To get the lead there was huge."

Kwame Johnson added a 10-yard TD run for BC in the second quarter to give the Renegades a 14-3 halftime lead.

BC could have had a larger lead, but Preston Hodges fumbled inside the Santa Ana 20 to end a drive with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.

"I'm proud of the way our guys handled things," Chudy said. "We didn't execute as well as we could have. We put the ball on the ground. We missed some open receivers. But we're going to get better."

Hodges put the game away with 1:26 remaining when he broke free for a 50-yard TD run for the final margin.

Hodges, a freshman from Independence High, finished with 116 yards on 21 carries.

"That put the nail in the coffin," Chudy said of Hodges' 50-yard TD. "We've got to get the rest of the guys to believe: those are the kinds of things he can do."

"The defense played really well," Darrik Martin said. " Offensively we were a little shaky. A lot of that was my fault.

"We'll get in practice, watch film and figure out what we did wrong and get better."

Santa Ana was limited to field goals of 29, 28 an 39 yards by Ian Miller. Glen Campbell had a 32-yard field goal for BC.

The Renegades' home opener is Saturday at 7 p.m. against perennial Southern California power Mount San Antonio, which lost 42-20 to Saddleback in its season opener Saturday.