GILROY -- This week it was the Modesto Junior College football team that made the big plays.
Modesto defeated Gavilan 44-14 Saturday at Gilroy High to pick up its first victory of the season. After falling to Delta by a similar score at MJC Stadium in their opener, the Pirates celebrated a dominant performance on the road.
Chad Draper threw four touchdown passes and ran for another, totaling 385 yards on 24 of his 35 attempted passes. Marcus Allen caught two long Draper scoring passes and Marquell Colston and Frankie Jiminez each nabbed one.
"We've never lost by 20 points like we did last week," Draper said. "I've never had that feeling sit in my stomach for a week. I just wanted to go out there and do my thing all night."
Never miss a local story.
Colston was everywhere for the Pirates (1-1) on Saturday, but credited everyone else with inspiring him. He ran for 73 yards on 10 carries, including a 25-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to cap Modesto's scoring.
Colston caught four passes for 55 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to put Modesto on the board just three minutes into the game.
He would have had a 60-yard kickoff return, but it was called back on a holding call in one of the Pirates' sloppier moments in the game.
Colston wasn't complaining, not when the highlights outnumbered the flubs.
"It all started with practice," Colston said. "This week was the most intense of any practice all last year. Honestly, every person on the team was working like we were playing for a championship."
Special teams play lived up to its name as the Pirates blocked two field goal tries, scored a safety on a blocked punt and gave Modesto prime field position.
Blake Bettencourt blocked a Gavilan punt from the Modesto 14-yard line with 22 seconds left in the second quarter, putting the Pirates up 9-7. On the ensuing kickoff, Tim Brown returned the ball 49 yards to set Modesto up on the Gavilan 10-yard line.
After a delay of game penalty, Draper connected with Allen for a 15-yard touchdown that gave Modesto a 17-7 lead to close the first quarter. Eddie Abbasi blocked a Rams' field goal attempt to end their next drive.
"Special teams keyed us early in the game, there's no doubt," head coach Sam Young said. "We try to give special teams strong emphasis. Everyone knows that's a third of the game and if you can win two out of three categories, you're usually going to win the game."
Modesto ate up the last seven minutes of the first half with a long scoring drive. Draper ended an 85-yard, 16-play drive with a convincing fake handoff to Stephen Ortega. While Ortega was tackled up the middle, Draper swept outside to his left and ran in untouched for a 2-yard score.
Allen caught seven passes for 153 yards. His longest reception was a 48-yard touchdown pass which put the Pirates ahead 37-14 with 8:55 to play. Chris Avey totaled 105 yards on six catches, including two for 32 yards.