Jalen Simpkins looked over his left shoulder, then his right shoulder, and saw no one that could catch him. The Bakersfield College linebacker eased up as he crossed inside the 10-yard line and eventually the goal line.
When he initially scooped up the fumbled snap on a field goal attempt at BC’s 20-yard line, Simpkins knew he just needed a few blocks to go 80 yards for the score. When he got inside Orange Coast 20, all he could think was, “I’m tired as hell. Is there anybody close to me? If not, let me start walking.”
It was the fourth of what ultimately would be six turnovers forced by BC’s defense. Two turnovers were returned for touchdowns. The state-ranked No. 21 Renegades (3-2) scored 38 points off turnovers and beat Orange Coast (1-4), 41-7, at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
“Is that how many we had?,” BC head coach Jeff Chudy said of the turnovers. “We had some guys flying around that’s for sure. Made some plays. Good grief.”
It was BC’s final game before a bye week and the start of conference play.
Renegades defensive back Justin Harrington grabbed the first and fourth interceptions for BC. Defensive back LJ Early also had two interceptions and defensive back Steven Marks recovered a fumble.
When BC starting quarterback Jacob Irby — playing in place of an injured Josh Medina — connected with receiver Cameron Roberson on an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, Irby celebrated by running directly to Harrington on the sideline.
Harrington had made BC’s drive possible by catching a ball off the hands of an Orange Coast receiver and taking it out to the 50. On his second interception, which came with less than two minutes left in the game, Harrington again grabbed a pass off an OC receiver and raced 98 yards for the touchdown.
“There’s at least three of those picks that were deflected ones,” Chudy said. “Different week, right? Ball’s not round. It was round tonight for whatever reason.”
Getting to the end zone on the fumble recovery was somewhat of a relief for Simpkins considering he was caught from behind by the quarterback on an interception one week earlier. His teammates still tell him he’s slow because of it, he said.
The Renegades kept Orange Coast off the scoreboard until a touchdown pass with 5:58 left in the game. BC had a 17-0 lead at halftime and a 27-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
BC’s defense masked a Renegades offense that had 38 rushes for just 80 yards and was 4-of-15 on third downs. Running back Elisha Ortiz had 19 rushes for negative-two yards. Irby did, however, throw a season-best yardage total for a BC quarterback with 190. He was 8-for-21. He threw two touchdown passes and ran for one.
“Every position group we have a lot of stars,” Simpkins said of the defense. “We’re just playing lights out right now.”
No. 21 Bakersfield College 41, Orange Coast 7
At Memorial Stadium
OC - 0 0 0 7 - 7
BC - 7 10 10 14 - 41
BC - De Jager 23 field goal
BC - Irby 8 run (De Jager kick)
BC - De Jager 27 field goal
BC - De Jager 26 field goal
BC - Simpkins 80 fumble recovery (De Jager kick)
BC - Rowel 50 pass from Irby (De Jager kick)
OC - Williams 16 pass from West (Casper kick)
BC - Harrington 98 interception return (De Jager kick)
RUSHING - Orange Coast: Lewis 10-54, West 7-29, Sedberry 6-26, Ellis 4-15, Sarafino 9-11, Mitchell 2-10, Smith 1-7, Brown 1-4, Bartolis 1-(-8). Bakersfield: Martin 8-42, Irby 9-26, Roberson 1-16, Ortiz 19-(-2), Team 1-(-2).
PASSING - Orange Coast: West 10-27-3-184, Mitchell 2-8-1-29, Team 0-1-0-0. Bakersfield: Irby 8-21-0-190.
RECEIVING - Orange Coast: Williams 3-65, Monge 2-54, Barnes 1-50, Brown 1-19, Aguayo 1-11, Conway 1-10, Ellis 1-3, Clark 1-1, Alleman 1-0. Bakersfield: Rowel 1-50, Jones 2-47, Austin 1-33, Roberson 1-11, Hartsfield 1-9, Ortiz 1-2.
W-L: Bakersfield College (3-2), Orange Coast (1-4).