Dave Ogas, Rancho Santiago Coach, knew before the season started that his team would depend on sophomore quarterback John Cook.
"He's the guy that will make us go," Ogas had said.
And it was Cook who led the Dons (1-0, 2-0) to a 28-27 come-from-behind victory over Orange Coast Saturday night at Santa Ana Stadium in the Mission Conference opener for both teams.
Cook was 5 for 5 passing for 60 yards on the 84-yard scoring drive in the final five minutes. Just for good measure, he carried the ball over from the one for the winning score.
Cook finished 25 of 40 for 274 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception.
The key play on the drive was a third-and-10 completion of a screen pass to freshman Albie Anderman for 12 yards to give the Dons a first down on the Orange Coast 1 with 1:05 left.
Cook let the Orange Coast blitz close in before flipping the ball to Anderman who followed his blocking to the one. The Pirates (0-1, 0-2) appeared to be in control when quarterback John Nowotny rushed 12 yards for a touchdown to give Orange Coast a 21-7 lead late in the third quarter.
But the Dons scored on a 49-yard run by sophomore running back Mike Jones, who had 99 in 11 carries.
The Pirates used a trick play to take a 14-7 halftime lead.
On first down from the Orange Coast 48, Nowotny pitched to wide receiver Ollie Perkins, who completed a 38-yard pass to Junior Tagaloa. He was forced out of bounds on the Rancho Santiago 15.
After an incomplete pass, Nowotny completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Perkins in the left corner of the end zone.
Orange Coast opened the scoring on a 13-yard scoring pass from Nowotny to Tagaloa with 6:39 left in the first quarter.
The Dons tied the score, 7-7, on a five-yard touchdown pass from Cook to Chuck Zazacour.
OC--Tagaloa 13 pass from Nowotny (Greene kick)
RS--Zacour 5 pass from Cook (Willis kick)
OC--Perkins 15 pass from Nowotny (Greene kick)
OC--Nowotny 12 run (Greene kick)
RS--Jones 49 run (Willis kick)
OC--FG Greene 32
RS--Campbell 5 run (Campbell run)
OC--FG Greene 26
RS--cook 1 run (kick failed)