OROVILLE -- The Modesto Junior College Pirates did everything possible Saturday afternoon except win.
They lost their non-league game to No. 3-ranked Butte 45-38 Saturday but not before they scared the favored Roadrunners. The Pirates (3-2) rallied from a 38-10 deficit in the fourth quarter to tie 38-38, again fell behind 45-38, then drove to inside the Butte 1-yard line.
But running back Marcus Hernandez (28 carries, 118 yards, 4 TDs) fumbled as he slammed into the line and Butte's Damien Borel recovered with 34 seconds left. It was MJC's only turnover of the warm afternoon. Butte had four.
The Pirates already planned a 2-point conversion had they scored.
"A real feeling of pride and heartbreak at the same time," MJC coach Sam Young summarized. "We're learning hard lessons, but I can't be more proud of them."
Butte (5-0) scored early in the fourth quarter and appeared to have the game in hand. Hernandez launched the MJC comeback with his 14-yard run, followed by a Butte fumble on the next kickoff.
Herbert Whitehurst (14 carries, 161 yards), the replacement for the injured Aaron Fields, ripped 40 yards for a touchdown. The rally continued with Hernandez's 1-yard TD run, and he capped a 49-yard march with a 2-yard scoring run. Guillermo Ramirez's conversion tied it 38-38 with 5:02 left.
Butte responded with a 60-yard march, all on the ground. Derek Seward gave the Roadrunners the lead to stay with his 14-yard run with 3:01 left.
Modesto started slowly for the fourth straight week. Butte scored on its first three possessions and eventually built a 24-7 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Ramirez missed a 25-yard field goal wide to the right, points which the Pirates dearly needed later.
Modesto outgained Butte 531-439 in a game the Pirates surely will remember during their bye week.
Saturday: ByeOct. 13: COS at Modesto JC, 6 p.m.