COSTA MESA -- The right arm of Jon Newsom and the pounding runs of Robert Penny helped provide the necessary formula for the Orange Coast College football team to pull out a hard-fought 35-28 win over visiting Palomar in a Southern Conference showdown on Saturday at LeBard Stadium.
Newsom threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-28 passing, while Penny rushed for 145 yards and two TDs on 29 carries to lead the Pirates (3-1, 1-0) to their third straight win. The last streak of three-or-more wins for Coast occurred in the first four games of the 2009 season.
The win for OCC helped take some of the shine off of a remarkable performance by Palomar running back Chad Dobbins, who rushed for 233 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. Dobbins accounted for 64% of the Comets' offense.
Palomar (2-2, 0-1) came out strong in the first half and used a pair of Dobbins' touchdown runs to take a 14-0 lead two plays into the second quarter.
After three drives that ended with punts, the OCC offense found some success on the ground as Penny and teammate Buzzy Yokoyama (12 carries, 78 yards) marched the Pirates down the field. The13-play, 69-yard scoring drive was capped off when Cam Oliver took a lateral from Newsom and ran it in from 5-yards out, cutting the deficit in half at 14-7.
After a three-and-out by the Comets, the Pirates marched down the field again and tied the game on a 10-yard TD run by Penny with 6:29 left in the half.
Dobbins again gave the Comets the lead thanks to a 37-yard touchdown on their first possession of the second half.
While Dobbins was dominant for the Comets, Newsom was picking apart the Palomar defense with an array of different targets. Five different players -- Penny (three catches, 72 yards), Bryan Keller (4-95), Brinton Coffey (3-50), Graeme Fraser (1-34) and Tyler Duncan (1-21) -- each has receptions of more than 20 yards on Saturday.
On OCC's next drive, the Pirates appeared to stall deep on Comet territory, but on third-and-22 from the Palomar 25, Duncan made an incredible acrobatic catch on the Comets' 4-yard-line, setting up fourth-and-1. From there, Penny plowed through the defense and scored, tying the game at 21 with 7:27 left in the third.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Newsom hit Keller with a 34-yard touchdown, putting Coast up 28-21.
Palomar had opportunities to put points on the scoreboard, but three straight field-goal attempts by Jon Halliday failed to go through the uprights and the Pirates stayed in front.
Despite allowing 362 total yards, the OCC defense did not break down the stretch. With Palomar driving down the field, quarterback Ryan Lamb (9-22, 79 yards) was intercepted by Clay Guess with 8:11 left in the fourth, giving the Pirates an opportunity to ice the game.
But instead of grinding out the clock with the ground game, the Pirates took to the air and on third-and-2, Newsome used a "free play" from an off-sides penalty and connected with Keller for a 47-yard touchdown strike, putting Coast up 35-21 with just under six minutes left to play.
But the Comets found new life on the ensuing kickoff when Austin Dennis broke free from a tackle and dashed 92 yards for a touchdown, making it 35-28.
But that would be the last time the Comets would see the ball the rest of the afternoon as the Pirates used a pair of big third-down pick-ups and worked the clock down to zero with a 13-play, 57-yard drive.
The Pirates will return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Grossmont College before returning to LeBard Stadium on Oct. 6 against College of the Desert (1 p.m.).