The Butte College football team rolled into Modesto with a No. 2 California ranking, the state's most productive rushing attack and an unbeaten record.
For the Modesto Junior College Pirates, it was a perfect storm.
The Pirates have given up rushing yards by the bushel this season, and Saturday night brought more of the same. Butte (5-0) gashed MJC for 518 yards on the ground, which explained the Pirates' 68-40 loss.
"We ran into a buzz saw tonight," MJC coach Sam Young said. "We gave up some short fields and put our defense in a bind. Butte was just the better team."
Modesto (2-3) lost its third straight game but not without handing its powerful opponent some parting gifts.
The Pirates scored first and handed the Roadrunners their first deficit of the season. In fact, Modesto's 40 points surpassed Butte's total allowance in its first four games.
Consolation prizes were hardly enough. Butte, at times pounding the ball at will, used its weight advantage to push around the smaller MJC defense. The Roadrunners totaled nine touchdowns, a field goal by strong-legged Rigoberto Sanchez and to cap the night a 2-point conversion via an intercepted MJC pass.
Kendall Williams (23 carries, 164 yards, TD), Butte's backup tailback, received the bulk of the work after an early injury to starter Robert Frazier. Wes McCoy, who started the game as a defensive back, raced to a pair of touchdowns on Wildcat forays on offense.
For all its sledgehammer physicality, Butte broke open the game with some clever gimmickry which spiced four second-quarter touchdowns.
On 3rd-and-goal from the MJC 7, Butte fooled the Pirates when quarterback Tommy Stuart lateraled to his left to to C.J. Grice, who waited and then tossed far to his right to Stuart for the TD and a 24-14 lead.
A few minutes later, Armand Bokitch took a handoff, pitched it back to Stuart who passed over the middle 26 yards to David Brannon in the end zone.
The Roadrunners extended the lead to 38-21 before halftime. Stuart gazed to his right, then passed to tight end Bo Brummel dragging to the left for the 8-yard strike.
"Those trick plays killed us," MJC nose guard Nester Garcia said. "They were bouncing everything to the outside just like San Mateo was doing (last week). They did their research."
Butte controlled via favorable field position, all those yards on the ground, and the foot of Sanchez who accounted for 12 points and bombed nine of 11 kickoffs for touchbacks.
Modesto's up-tempo offense enjoyed its moments. Quarterback TeeJay Gordon (24 of 37, 235 yards, TD) worked from start to finish despite a turf toe injury incurred last week. Gordon did not take a snap in practice until the day before kickoff.
But on 4th-and-goal from the 2 early in the second quarter, MJC gained its final lead when Gordon faked a pitch and stepped into the end zone standing up.
"TeeJay did a fantastic job tonight, a gutsy effort by him," Young said.
The Pirates also found production from 250-pound tight end Jake McCreath (6 catches, 141 yards, TD), whose touches no doubt will increase when Valley Conference action begins after next week's bye.
"TeeJay is starting to gain confidence in me," McCreath said. "We really need Ricky (Fuentes) back."
McCreath referred to MJC's injured slot, one of the team's major weapons. The Pirates hope Fuentes will return when they begin conference play at Sequoias. For now, backup quarterback Chris Souza (5 catches, 70 yards, TD) picked up the slack.
Running back James Sams scored two touchdowns while Anthony Cota (15 carries, 93 yards, TD), like a few of his teammates, overcame injuries to stay on the field.
I was proud of my team tonight, Young said. Weve played two physical teams in a row and it took its toll. Well rest up.