Modesto Junior College lined up for an onside kick with 1:40 to play in the game, hoping for a chance at a tying touchdown.
The kick was gobbled up by the Eagles and, with it, the Pirates chances for a second consecutive Valley Conference championship.
Modesto (4-5 overall, 2-2 in conference) needed to beat Laney to create a three-way logjam atop the conference standings. The Eagles (8-1, 4-0) clinched at least a share of the league title and can wrap up the outright championship next week against Chabot.
Trailing 40-26 with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Pirates picked up a first down on Dan Velasquez’s 11-yard completion to Jonah Lewis, then scored when Velasquez found Michael Thompson on a 46-yard strike with 1:40 to play.
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That gave MJC a glimmer of hope, but Laney pounced on the ensuing onside kick to ice the game.
Devan Bass carried the ball 35 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns, while Velasquez totaled 86 yards on 11 carries. Malcome Green added 58 yards on nine attempts and he also caught seven passes for 47 yards.. Velasquez completed 15 of 25 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns – both to Thompson. Velasquez also had a 46-yard touchdown run that gave the Pirates their only lead of the contest at 20-14.
The Pirates will end the regular season on Saturday, Sept. 11 when they host San Joaquin Delta. The game will be streamed live on NorCalSportsTV.com.