Watch highlights from Modesto’s win over Patterson
If the Modesto High football team is going to make any waves in the Central California Athletic League this season, the Panthers will have to clean up their act.
The Panthers earned a wild, sloppy victory over Patterson on Friday night. And Modesto coach Brett Wagner, while happy with the win, certainly knows the Panthers can’t afford to play the same way in the tough CCAL.
“I’m proud of the guys, but we have a lot of work to do,” Wagner said. “The league’s not going to be a joke, so we have a lot of work to do.”
Wagner said his team was missing two key linemen due to disciplinary reasons and the Panthers were hurt when star running back Zaire Eugene began suffering cramps at the start of the third quarter.
But Modesto made enough big plays to hold off a pesky Patterson team and improve to 2-1. Wagner said the Panthers may have been hurt by an early season bye. It had been two weeks since they last played.
“We came out today and made a lot of mistakes,” Wagner said. “We had to pick up the pieces (from missing the two linemen), and that’s a testament to this team.”
Eugene, the Panthers’ standout senior, had a huge first half, running for 112 of his 129 yards and three touchdowns.
Daeveon Graves, another senior, also had a big night, scoring three different ways. Graves intercepted a Patterson pass and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown, took a handoff and raced 94 yards for a score, and caught a critical fourth-down TD pass that helped stave off a Patterson comeback attempt.
Bruising sophomore running back James Hayes (5-foot-11, 230 pounds) also ran well, gaining 62 yards on 11 carries, mostly in the second half.
Like Modesto, the Tigers (2-2) were plagued by sloppy play, including 12 penalties. Modesto committed 11 penalties, including a number of personal foul calls.
After Graves’ 94-yard scamper put Modesto up 34-14 with a minute left in the first half, the Tigers looked down and out. But Patterson responded with a quick scoring drive that was capped by a 54-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Adrian Melesio and trailed 34-17 at halftime.
The Tigers opened the second half with a nice TD drive, then pulled within three points when Miguel Alvarez intercepted a Modesto pass and returned it 29 yards for a TD.
Up by three and facing fourth down near midfield, Modesto ran a successful fake punt to move the ball into Patterson territory. Then, on fourth and long from the 11-yard line, Graves hauled in Alonzo Rodriguez’s pass for a score that put Modesto back up by 10.
The Tigers never got closer than seven points after that, and when Modesto recovered an onside kick in the final minute the Panthers’ win was finalized.
“It feels great, we played as a team,” Eugene said. ”We’re low on numbers, but we play how we have to play.”
The Panthers will have to play much better when the CCAL season opens at Gregori on Sept. 28.
Modesto travels to Franklin of Stockton next week.
Patterson, which joins the Central California Conference this season, visits Buhach Colony in its CCC opener next Friday.