Numbers starting to add up for MJC gridders

The numbers were as encouraging as the performances for the Modesto Junior College football team Saturday night.

After struggling to a 1-4 start, the host Pirates opened Golden Gate Conference play with a 56-21 victory over Hartnell.

Modesto (2-4, 1-0 GGC) set a season high in points and held a team under 20 for the first time since beating Gavilan 44-14 on Sept. 8. The Pirates totaled 526 yards and didn't commit a turnover.

It was a relief for the Pirates, who lost three in a row before their bye week.

"We came in pretty fired up," Daniel Osmer said. "We knew something was going to happen because we worked so hard the last two weeks. Practices have been really intense. We've got the talent. Something just wasn't getting done.

"It's huge to break loose like this. It's nice to start league with a good streak going."

Even Osmer got in on the action. The Pirates' long snapper, Osmer was a standout running back at Buhach Colony High. He recorded his first four carries of the season in the fourth quarter and rushed for 84 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown to cap the Pirates' scoring with five minutes to play. It was the Pirates' third touchdown following an interception.

"I've been waiting for that the whole season," Osmer said. "Once I got the ball, I had to show I could hang with the big guys, even though I'm small (5 feet 3 inches, 155 pounds)."

Safety Tim Brown and linebacker Eddie Abbasi scored on interception returns.

Starting quarterback Chad Draper was 5 for 5 passing for 95 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown to Marcus Allen, before suffering a "slightly separated" shoulder during a long drive. Mike Barber capped the 10-play, 94-yard march with a 47-yard touchdown run, and Joey Estrada came in and completed 9 of 20 passes for 141 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown to Chris Avey.

Avey quadrupled his reception yardage for the season by catching six passes for 79 yards.

Marquell Colston continued to be the Pirates' go-to player. He ran for 90 yards in 10 carries and caught three passes for 68 yards. Colston slipped out of two tackles on a 54-yard touchdown run that put Modesto ahead 34-0 early in the second quarter. He somersaulted into the end zone, immediately bringing out a yellow flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Stephen Ortega, returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for two games, ran for a 9-yard touchdown and had 51 yards in 15 carries.