The Modesto Junior College Pirates dug deep into their playbook Friday night to find a satisfying Valley Conference win.
The Pirates scored three touchdowns on trick plays and added two more scores by their opportunistic defense to defeat Laney 41-20. The victory was especially sweet given that Modesto (5-2, 2-0) lost to the Eagles (3-4, 0-2) the previous two years.
“The guys are excited,” coach Rusty Stivers said. “The fifth win makes us bowl eligible.”
7 Touchdowns scored this season by MJC defense
Modesto, ranked seventh in California, led throughout and built a 20-6 halftime advantage. The trickery touchdowns sustained their momentum: an option pitch to Ravon Alexander who tossed to Greg Tripp Jr.; a reverse to Tiki Tonga who passed to Tripp; and, after another reverse, a pass from David Martinez to Tim Knuettel.
“We’ve been practicing these plays. To have success on the road, I felt we had to take these shots because Laney is good,” Stivers said. “We tried to use their aggression against them.”
The Pirates’ opportunistic defense – they were tied for first in the state with five TDs entering the game – again stepped forward. MJC’s second TD came on a blocked field goal and 75-yard return by Herman Harris. On the game’s final play, DeWayne Finney Jr. widened the final margin with an interception and return into the end zone.
“The strength of our team is our defense,” Stivers said.
Modesto will finish the regular season with three important games – next Saturday night at Chabot, home against Fresno on Nov. 7 and at Delta on Nov. 14.