TURLOCK -- Three plays, 46 yards and one huge victory ... perhaps Modesto High's most significant in decades.
It also provided a snapshot of what has the Panthers atop The Bee's Stanislaus District rankings, the first time the Modesto Metro Conference has had the top-ranked team.
The first play was a 17-yard slant to junior Jaron Ingram to midfield, then quarterback Klayton Miller scrambled 17 yards and ran out of bounds.
James Waters then drove a defender back with an initial burst off the line, cut out and caught a 12-yard pass before getting out of bounds. Julian Gallo then kicked his 35-yard field goal, with no time left, for the 37-34 win over Sonora.
"Once we got the ball, even with just (31) seconds, I knew we had the players to get the ball close enough for a kick," said Miller, who took Modesto 46 yards in just 29 seconds.
The Panthers accomplished that without using their most explosive player, halfback Arquel Rogers. Despite constant attention from the 'Cats, Rogers had 153 yards offense and three TDs on seven touches.
Sonora had Rogers blanketed, though, leaving the other Panthers in single coverage.
"Sonora had to respect our speed because we broke some big plays," coach Rod Long said. "That gave us room on the late throws. Get too close and those guys get past you."
If there is a defining aspect to this team, it's speed. It's in the backfield and on the ends, players who rarely are going to be run down by a defender.
It's helped the unbeaten Panthers produce big plays and average 42 points a game. It's also generated excitement for spectators, as any play could produce the next touchdown.
They scored on plays of 97, 84, 69, 42 and 8 yards vs. Sonora, with Rogers scoring on an 84-yard run and a 42-yard reception. Ingram had a 97-yard interception return and Miller scored on a 69-yard keeper.
You can't practice for speed like this, not in this corner of the Sac-Joaquin Section. Sacramento has faster teams, for sure, but Modesto is in the conversation about being the fastest team outside the capital.
Containing that speed is the challenge awaiting No. 2 Turlock (3-0) when it hosts Modesto (3-0) tonight in the "Little Big Game" at renovated Debely Stadium at Turlock High.
The teams first met in 1921 and their Thanksgiving Day tradition continued until 1956, when it was moved to an earlier date so it wouldn't conflict with basketball season.
It's been years since the Little Big Game, a tip of the cap to the Big Game between Cal and Stanford, got much attention outside the two schools.
Turlock is scoring 42 points a game and has the district's most dynamic QB in Kevin Kramer -- whose future appears to be playing baseball at UCLA. If that goes awry, there might be a future for Kramer running a college spread offense.
Modesto's pretty high on its QB, too. Miller has 398 yards rushing, 368 passing and has had a hand in 9 TDs. Miller is the No. 4 rusher in the district (Kramer is second with 403 yards) and sixth among the passers.
"He started some as a sophomore, but the big difference I see is how Klayton's become a better passer," Long said. "I see good decisions when he's throwing the ball and he's decisive when he wants to run."