As the No. 3 ranked JC football team in the state, Modesto Junior College is faced with high expectations.
After a loss to San Mateo on Oct. 5, the Pirates worked on special teams and prepared for the “new season” during the bye week.
That “new season” began with a 44-21 win over the College of Sequoias (0-1, 3-3) in a Valley League game on Saturday before a homecoming crowd at MJC.
Still, coach Rusty Stivers, whose team is 1-0 in conference and 5-1 overall, wasn’t happy with his team’s performance.
“To play as bad we did, it doesn’t feel good,” he said.
After taking a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, the Pirates allowed two touchdowns in 20 seconds. Stivers said the Pirates struggled to execute early after the week off.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Danny Velasquez (Turlock), who has been battling a knee injury, was “hesitant” in the first half, Stivers said, and the offense didn’t get into rhythm until the third quarter.
MJC led 21-14 at halftime but scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter on touchdown runs by freshman wide receivers Carter Williams (Manteca) and Lucas Curtis (Turlock).
With two running backs out (Michael Ramos and Isaac Sharp), the Pirates rotated multiple players and ran rushing plays to the outside to get their elusive playmakers the ball.
“We are banged up at running back and it did cause a concern with the flow of our running game,” Stivers said.
Curtis, Williams and Dayshawn Alderson (Beyer) combined to rush 134 yards and two touchdowns.
Aside from allowing a few big plays, the Pirates’ defense played well, forcing four turnovers. Stivers said the offense put the group in a tough position with drives starting in its own territory.
Velasquez had 190 total yards and sophomore wide receiver Jordan Porter (Turlock) had three receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.
MJC is at West Hills (0-1, 0-6) of Coalinga next Saturday at 1 p.m. and Stivers told the team after the game it’s another opportunity to keep improving.
“We are 1-0 in league,” Stivers told the team. “Let’s get better for the next game.”