On paper, Modesto Junior College’s 44-28 Valley Conference loss Saturday to Fresno City doesn’t look all that bad. But for those brave few that stuck around for all four quarters and watched the game in its entirety … it was bad.
“We were so bad tonight,” said MJC coach Rusty Stivers, whose offense outgained FCC’s 447-428. “And a lot of it was self-inflicted. That’s what’s hardest to take.”
The Pirates entered the game riding a three-game winning streak after starting the season with three straight losses, but three fumbles and two interceptions resulted in 34 points for the Rams, who led 27-0 before the midway point of the second quarter.
“Any time you turn the ball over that many times, the defense has to defend a short field and you can’t play that way against good teams,” said Stivers. “It just seemed like our defense was on the field the majority of the time.”
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Modesto’s defense had yielded just 27 points in the last three games, but was on the field too much to be effective Saturday. The Rams held the ball for 34 minutes, 34 seconds, to just 25:26 for the Pirates. Modesto’s first six possessions of the night resulted in a fumble, blocked punt, punt, fumble, interception and another interception, and a tired defensive unit trotted back onto the field each time for more punishment.
Despite the miserable start, the Pirates scored a pair of touchdown in the final 6:25 of the first half and trailed 27-14 and, set to receive the second-half kickoff, was suddenly back in the game.
Devan Bass hauled in a 76-yard scoring strike from Dan Velasquez to get the Pirates on the board, and then Velasquez found Michael Thompson from 11-yards out with 17 seconds to play in the half to make it 27-14.
Velasquez completed 14 of 29 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns, but he also threw two drive-killing picks. Bass rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries and also caught four passes for 123 yards. Thompson caught five passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which came with 6:12 to play in the game and against brought MJC to within two scores – 44-28. Josh Taylor also hauled in a TD pass from Velasquez – a 26-yarder seven seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Pirates now must hope that Laney College can tag the Rams with their first league loss next week in Fresno, and then try to do the same to Laney when they meet Nov. 3 in Oakland.
But first, MJC tangles with Chabot in Hayward on Oct. 28. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.